Astronauts board International Space Station after docking SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have officially boarded the International Space Station.
Despite weather concerns, the veteran astronauts took off from launchpad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on Saturday afternoon, riding on top of a Falcon 9 rocket aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
On Sunday morning, the astronauts gave an inside look at the spacecraft.
In the video, they explained that they got to test the spacecraft's systems on Saturday. This is the first time that the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft has been tested in orbit. They said that it is performing beautifully.
By 10:16 a.m. EDT, they were docked at the International Space Station.
Within a few hours, the astronauts exited the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and boarded the International Space Station. This is the first time that a commercially-made spacecraft has entered the station.
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Hurley and Behnken will stay at the International Space Station for an undetermined amount of time. The spacecraft can stay in orbit for about 210 days but the specific duration of their mission has not been determined yet. NASA will make this decision based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.
When the mission ends, NASA said the Crew Dragon spacecraft will undock with the two astronauts on board and depart the International Space Station. They will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown just off of Florida's Atlantic Coast, where the SpaceX Navigator recovery vessel will recover them.
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NASA said this is a stepping stone, as the Artemis program aims to discover new knowledge about the Moon, Earth, and our origins in the solar system. It will land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the moon by 2024. Contracts have already been awarded to Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX to design and develop human landers.
Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. (Photo Credit: NASA)
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