SpaceX Crew Dragon docks with the ISS to drop off astronauts

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, launched yesterday on its second operational mission, has arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS). The capsule carries four astronauts from various space agencies who will join the ISS crew to work on scientific research projects on the station.

The Crew Dragon was launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:49 a.m. ET on Friday, April 23. It traveled to the space station through Friday and overnight and arrived to begin docking at 5:08 a.m. ET on Saturday, April 24.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon approaches its space station docking port with the Kibo laboratory module in the foreground.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon approaches its space station docking port with the Kibo laboratory module in the foreground. NASA TV

The astronauts on board the Crew Dragon were NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet. The four new faces were welcomed on board by the current ISS crew when the hatch between the Crew Dragon and the ISS was opened at 7:05 a.m. ET.

The four new SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts joined the Expedition 65 crew today bringing the station population to 11.
The four new SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts joined the Expedition 65 crew today bringing the station population to 11. NASA TV

That means there are now 11 people on board the space station, which NASA says is “a number not seen since the space shuttle era.” This includes six NASA astronauts, two JAXA astronauts, one ESA astronaut, and two Roscosmos cosmonauts. Although that means the station is very full right now, it won’t stay that way for long, as NASA’s Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins, and Victor Glover, plus JAXA’s Soichi Noguchi, will soon be departing the station and heading back to Earth.

Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk had a message for the new crew: “We thank you for everything you do for the agency, the country, and the world,” he said. “We look forward to an amazing expedition.” He also thanked the existing Crew-1 members and acknowledged their work including upgrading the space station’s power systems and performing research.

The new crew will be continuing the power system upgrades with more spacewalks, and will also be performing scientific research into topics like the use of tissue chips, which are small-scale models of human organs which can be used for testing drugs and vaccines.

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