The capsule with US astronauts Bob Banken and Doug Hurley successfully docked with the International Space Station, NASA reported. The hatch between it and the station is about to be opened.
This happened at 17:17, minutes before the expected moment – 17:30 Bulgarian time. The mission lasted just under 7 p.m.
In the Crew Dragon capsule of “Space X” they took off last night at 22:22 Bulgarian time. The historic first private manned space flight is an important step in private space activity and the first take-off of astronauts from the United States in nine years (and for SpaceX founder Elon Musk – and “the first step in the journey to Mars civilization”). he told reporters last night).
The first attempt failed due to bad weather.
The procedure was completely automatic – no effort was required on their part, except in case of an unexpected technical problem. The docking has already been tested before, but without astronauts on board. As part of this test flight, however, Hurley and Benken took control for several hundred meters.
Thus, the successful outcome of the launch means that NASA will adhere to its plan from now on not to own or operate ships flying to and from the station. However, NASA may postpone the celebration of this historic moment – for both the United States and the space industry – until the return of Hurley and Benken to Earth. Musk told reporters shortly before takeoff that the return flight could in some ways be more risky than the launch.
Exactly how many astronauts will remain on board the ISS is unknown, but it will not be more than 4 months (the maximum time that Cred Dragon can remain in orbit at the moment) and will probably be over a month. NASA is about to make the decision, and in the meantime, Hurley and Benken join two Americans and three astronauts at the station. Experiments and space walks to replace her batteries are likely to be part of their program.
For them, however, the immediate task now is to open the hatch, which is broadcast live on the SpaceX channel. It will take some time due to the need to equalize the pressure, but will allow Benken and Hurley to enter the ISS itself.
The next phase for SpaceX and NASA includes six such flights, the first in August. The US space agency is also working with Boeing, whose capsule will be ready in 2021.
Hours before the docking, Hurley and Benken announced that the capsule was doing “great,” but as a precaution, they donned the spacesuits they took off for the ISS.
You can follow the chronology of last night’s launch here.
You will learn more about the two pilots here.
Details are expected later at www.dnevnik.bg.