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Watch SpaceX’s Crew Dragon thrusters guide it to space station

SpaceX has shared a cool video showing the Crew Dragon’s Draco engines nudging the spacecraft toward the International Space Station (ISS).

The autonomous maneuver took place on Wednesday, April 27 and marked the arrival of SpaceX’s Crew-4 astronauts at the orbital outpost following a 16-hour voyage from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Video of Dragon’s Draco thrusters moving the spacecraft closer to the @Space_Station pic.twitter.com/0zBNYgAcDb

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 28, 2022

“The Dragon spacecraft is equipped with 16 Draco thrusters used to orient the spacecraft during the mission, including apogee/perigee maneuvers, orbit adjustment and attitude control,” SpaceX says on its website, adding that each one is capable of generating 90 pounds of force in the vacuum of space.

Traveling aboard the Crew Dragon were NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, along with the European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti.

Soon after the footage was captured, the spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew, successfully docked with the ISS. A short while later, the Crew-4 astronauts passed through the connecting hatch to enter the facility and meet the current inhabitants for the first time.

The Crew Dragon will stay docked at the space station until the end of Crew-4’s mission, which is scheduled to last about six months.

After that, the astronauts will re-enter capsule and undock, with the Draco engines firing up once again to help bring the spacecraft and astronauts safely home.

SpaceX’s capsule also contains eight SuperDraco engines capable of blasting the Crew Dragon up to half a mile away from the launch vehicle in less than eight seconds in the case of an emergency situation shortly after launch. To date, the SuperDraco engines have never been needed, but a couple of years ago, SpaceX shared dramatic footage of a crewless mission that tested the safety system high over the Atlantic Ocean.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft has been ferrying cargo to the International Space Station since 2012, while astronaut missions started in 2020.

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