In a historical accomplishment, the two NASA astronauts docked the capsule and entered the International Space station on Sunday after being launched by a rocket from SpaceX, the first private business to do so.
Mr.Behnken and Mr. Hurley were both welcomed by Christopher Cassidy, the current commander of the space station. They joined the three astronauts already in the station and would be spending the 4 months with them.
This trip will help NASA to assess whether the Dragon Capsule meets their safety standards and requirements to be used regularly in the coming days to take astronauts to and from the space station. NASA has been depending on Russia for this commute since 2011. The spacecraft’s success will also open up the possibilities for it to be used to take space tourists in the coming future.
“I will tell you, the whole world saw this mission and we are so, so proud of everything you have done for our country, and in fact, to inspire the world.”
Jim Bridenstein, Administrator – NASA
Elon Musk, the head of SpaceX, was overwhelmed with emotion as he addressed the press after the Falcon 9 rocket took off from its launchpad with two NASA astronauts on Saturday. He described it as an important moment not only for America but for anyone who nurtures a spirit of exploration.
NASA will collect the data from this flight, provided no major problems occur to certify the spacecraft’s eligibility to be used in further trips. The next planned mission, an operational one, is set to take four astronauts; 3 from NASA and 1 from the Japanese space agency to the station.
Mr. Behnken was of the opinion that in comparison to his previous stints, this flight was more alive as they offered a much smoother ascent. Though this test run was scheduled only for a few weeks, the two of them may stay longer than the currently planned duration of four months as the space station is presently short staffed with just Christopher Cassidy and two other astronauts – Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin. This shortage is due to a delay in the completion of work by another private business – Boeing’s Starliner Capsule. NASA relies on them too, along with SpaceX, for their astronaut transportation.
The Crew Dragon is certified to last four months in space. The solar panels on the SpaceX Dragon have the tendency to decay over time and keeping it docked for more than four months may risk their re-entry to the earth. Hence, the astronauts would continue to check the resilience of the panels and will make a decision regarding the extension of their stay.
Many have applauded this success including President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and called it a “hopeful inspiration” amidst all the chaos in the country post the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.