SpaceX capsule carrying astronauts docks with space station

Katie Ramirez
June 1, 2020

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 3:22 p.m. EDT (19:22 GMT), launching Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a 19-hour ride aboard the company's newly designed Crew Dragon capsule bound for the International Space Station.

"Dragon was huffing and puffing all the way into orbit, and we were definitely driving or riding a dragon all the way up", he said.

Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated the duo on a job well done: "The whole world saw this mission and we are so, so proud of everything you've done for our country and, in fact, to inspire the world".

Once the in-orbit segment of the mission is concluded, the Dragon will undock from the ISS and head back towards Earth. "Just a spectacular job with the simulator as the vehicle flew exactly like the simulators out in Hawthorne", Hurley said, referring to SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Having arrived in orbit, Crew Dragon began a 19-hour pursuit of the station, beginning with a phase burn and the mission's first manual flight test.

Saturday's launch to the ISS is only the first half of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 test flight. In the nine years since, NASA paid Russian Federation as much as $90 million a seat to fly its astronauts to the space station. But its Starliner spacecraft encountered significant problems during a test mission without crews late previous year and had to cut that flight short.

SpaceX, officially known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and founded by Tesla Inc. billionaire Elon Musk, is working with NASA to develop a successor to the Space Shuttle transportation system that was in service for 30 years through 2011.

Bob Behnken said the pair were well rested and ready for the tasks ahead.

The Dragon crew capsule lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral
Camera Icon The Dragon crew capsule lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. Credit John Raoux AP

On Saturday evening Hurley announced that the spacecraft, previously known as capsule 206, has been renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules.

During the drive, Behnken and Hurley passed former astronaut Garrett Reisman who held a sign saying, "Take me with you".

On the final flight of the space shuttle, the crew chose an eclectic mix, including Elton John's "Rocket Man", R.E.M.'s "Man on the Moon" and "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles.

It went down Sunday AM Earth time.

During a live broadcast from the spacecraft, Hurley said the pair had been able to get some rest before the wake-up call.

"They [Roscosmos] believe in the partnership and so I think it's going to remain strong", Bridenstine said.

On the ISS, the astronauts will perform tests and join one United States astronaut and two Russians who are now onboard the station.

"We don't really understand the hysteria sparked by the successful launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft", spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko said on Twitter. Today's liftoff was the mission's second launch attempt; the first try, on Wednesday, May 27, ended up rescheduled due to unfavorable weather conditions.

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