The demonstration mission of SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked Sunday on the International Space Station, passing a key test before it can begin taking US astronauts into space.
The white, bullet-shaped Dragon capsule, developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company under contract to NASA, closed in on the orbiting station nearly 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean and, flying autonomously, linked up on its own, without the help of the robotic arm normally used to guide spacecraft into position, the AP reports. Dragon’s arrival marked the first time in eight years that an American-made spacecraft capable of carrying humans has flown to the space station.
“Welcome to the new era in spaceflight,” McClain said from inside Dragon.
SpaceX’s 27-foot-long capsule rocketed into orbit early Saturday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with a mannequin strapped into one of its four seats.
Ripley and the capsule were rigged with sensors to measure noise, vibration, and stresses and monitor the life-support, propulsion, and other critical systems. Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques pronounced the docking flawless and called it “a beautiful thing to see.”