SpaceX capsule, 4 astronauts dock at the space station

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CAP CANAVERAL, Fla .– SpaceX’s new capsule with four astronauts arrived Monday at the International Space Station, their new home until spring.

The Dragon capsule stopped and docked late Monday evening, after a 27-hour fully automated flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The liaison occurred 422 kilometers above Idaho.

“Oh, what a beautiful voice to hear,” shouted space station astronaut Kate Rubins when Dragon Commander Mike Hopkins first made radio contact.

“We look forward to having you on board,” she added after the two spaceships were locked together.

This is the second astronaut mission for SpaceX. But this is the first time that Elon Musk’s company has delivered a crew for a full semester stay in the resort. The two-pilot test flight earlier this year lasted two months.

The three Americans and a Japanese astronaut will remain at the orbiting lab until their replacements arrive on another Dragon in April. And so will be, with SpaceX – and possibly Boeing – carrying astronauts to and from the station for NASA.

This regular taxi service started with the launch on Sunday evening.

This NASA televised video capture shows NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon as it approaches the International Space Station (out of frame) on November 16, 2020.NASA TV via AFP – Getty Images

Hopkins and his crew – Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi – join two Russians and an American who flew to the space station last month from Kazakhstan. Glover is the first African American to settle down for the long haul. A newcomer to space, Glover received his gold astronaut pin on Monday.

The four named their capsule Resilience to give hope and inspiration during a particularly difficult year for the whole world. They aired a tour of their pod on Monday, showing the touchscreen controls, storage areas, and their weightlessness indicator: a little Baby Yoda plush.

Walker said it was a bit tighter for them than for the two astronauts on the test flight.

“We kind of dance around each other so we don’t get in the way,” she says.

In this NASA TV image capture, astronauts Mike Hopkins, left, and Victor Glover control the controls aboard SpaceX Dragon as the capsule approaches the International Space Station on November 16, 2020.NASA TV via AP

For Sunday’s launch, NASA kept guests to a minimum because of the coronavirus, and even Musk had to stay away after tweeting that he “very likely” had an infection. He was replaced in his official launch duties by SpaceX chairman Gwynne Shotwell, who assured reporters he was still heavily involved in Sunday night’s action, albeit from a distance.

As they prepared for the bond with the space station, the Dragon crew broadcast live views of New Zealand and a brilliant blue, cloud-streaked Pacific 250 miles below.

“Sounds amazing,” Mission Control said from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

“It’s also amazing from here,” Hopkins replied.

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