The SpaceX company’s Dragon Adventure spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station ( ISS) this Sunday with two NASA astronauts on board, approximately 19 hours after its successful launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral , Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, which NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley christened “Dragon Endeavor,” docked with the ISS without any problems after a sequence of nearly two-hour approach maneuvers.
The ship arrived about ten minutes before the scheduled time and completed the final approach maneuver at 10:17 a.m. EST at the height of the northern Chinese border with Mongolia, after taking off from Kennedy Space Center coupled to the tip of the Falcon 9 rocket in front of millions of people who followed the live broadcast over the Internet. At around 4:45 a.m. after waking up EST Hurley and Behnken tested the ship’s maneuverability about thirty minutes before docking to validate the shuttle’s functionality, after which they re-activated the autopilot.After the pressure inside the shuttle has been equalized with that of the ISS, the hatch will open approximately two hours after docking and the onboard crew will welcome Hurley and Behnken.
The astronauts will join Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner and American Chris Cassidy who flew aboard the Soyuz shuttle to the ISS on April 9, and will spend about six months there to complete their mission. At present, the length of the Demo-2 mission that aims to certify the ability of the company SpaceX, created by Elon Musk, to conduct commercial space travel is uncertain, but astronauts are expected to spend between 6 and 16 weeks in the ISS. During that time they will perform technological and scientific studies before they return to Earth, which will be the final step, if successful, before beginning NASA operational missions funded by private firms.