Baby Yoda is a bonus passenger of the SpaceX Commercial Crew mission

Katie Ramirez
November 17, 2020

Nasa astronauts, from left, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Michael Hopkins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi before their flight.

SpaceX, the rocket company started by South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk, last week received certification from Nasa that it had met the requirements for regular manned space voyages.

"Watching this mission launch is a special moment for NASA and our SpaceX team", said Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule is now bringing four astronauts - three from NASA, and one from Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency - to spend several months aboard the International Space Station.

The Dragon capsule pulled up and docked late Monday night, following a 27-hour, completely automated flight from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. It is the first time there have been seven long-duration crew members aboard - a situation that has caused a scramble for beds.

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The Crew-1 astronauts are expected to spend about six months on board the ISS, where they'll work on a variety of science experiments and conduct space walks to continue updates and repairs on the space station's exterior.

During a brief dispatch between mission control and the astronauts yesterday afternoon, mission commander Hopkins asked ground control operators if they could see Mr Glover smiling "because it hasn't stopped since we've been up here".

The gumdrop-shaped space capsule, which the astronauts named Resilience in a nod to the coronavirus pandemic, was scheduled to dock at 11 p.m. Monday (0400 GMT on Tuesday) at the space station, an orbital laboratory some 250 miles (400 km) above Earth where another U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts were awaiting their arrival.

"We've got Baby Yoda on board trying to take a seat right now", the NASA communications specialist Leah Cheshier said in the agency's livestream of the mission.

The Crew Dragon crew ready for the launch. In the past, Musk has been dismissive of COVID-19, in March calling the pandemic panic "dumb", and occasionally tweeting misinformation about disease.

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