Watch SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft dock with the International Space Station - and hear from NASA astronauts
Following the successful launch by NASA and SpaceX of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, it is now due to dock with the International Space Station.
You can watch events unfold live below on Sunday.
The Crew Dragon was launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8.22pm UK time (3.22pm local time) on Saturday (May 30).
NASA crew members Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were on board for what was the first commercial launch of astronauts into space by a private company.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX built both the spacecraft as well as the rocket.
Since 2011, NASA has been using Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get its astronauts to the International Space Station.
This switch to a commercial operator represents a new era in space travel and a stepping stone towards future missions to the moon and Mars.
Today, the spacecraft is due to dock with the International Space Station in an autonomous process.
All the timings as Crew Dragon docks with the International Space Station (UK times)
Sunday, May 31
- 2.29pm – Docking with ISS
- 4.45pm – Hatch opens
- 5.05pm – Welcome ceremony
- 7.15pm – News conference with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer and NASA chief astronaut Pat Forrester
Monday, June 1
- 3.15pm – Space Station crew news conference with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley
- 4:55pm – SpaceX employee event and Class of 2020 Mosaic presentation with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley
Watch the live coverage from NASA
What will happen during docking
Docking is automated, but the crews on the Dragon and the space station will monitor and can take control if necessary.
The spacecraft is due to come up under the station and manouevre to the docking port on the bow section. The Dragon will be sealed in place and pressure checks will take place. Then the astronauts will be able to disembark and meet the Russian and American astronauts on the International Space Station.
The naming of the spacecraft
The astronauts have also completed the traditional naming of their ship - calling Dragon the ‘Capsule Endeavour’.
Hurley said: “We chose Endeavour for a few reasons: One, because of this incredible endeavour that Nasa, SpaceX and the US have been on since the end of the shuttle programme back in 2011.
“The other reason is a little more personal to Bob and I. We both had our first flights on shuttle Endeavour and it just meant so much to us to carry on that name.”
The shuttles have since been retired.
Launch heralds new era in human spaceflight
Following the launch, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “Today a new era in human spaceflight begins as we once again launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil on their way to the International Space Station, our national lab orbiting Earth.
“I thank and congratulate Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, and the SpaceX and NASA teams for this significant achievement for the United States. The launch of this commercial space system designed for humans is a phenomenal demonstration of American excellence and is an important step on our path to expand human exploration to the Moon and Mars.”
Elon Musk, chief engineer at SpaceX, said: "This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX.
“It is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by the SpaceX team, by NASA and by a number of other partners in the process of making this happen.
“You can look at this as the results of a hundred thousand people roughly when you add up all the suppliers and everyone working incredibly hard to make this day happen.”
The Demo-2 mission, as it is known, is the final major test before NASA’s Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station. 7
SpaceX will validate all aspects of its crew transportation system, including the Crew Dragon spacecraft, spacesuits, Falcon 9 launch vehicle, launch pad 39A and operations capabilities.
The astronauts have taken control of Crew Dragon for two manual flight tests to demonstrate their ability to control the spacecraft should there be a problem with the spacecraft’s automated flight.
Ultimately, Crew Dragon will be able to launch up to four crew members at a time and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo. This will enable more crew on board the space station and increase the amount of time dedicated to research in microgravity.
The Crew Dragon spaceship used here can stay in orbit about 110 days, but the specific mission length will only be determined once at the space station, based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.
Following this mission, Behnken and Hurley will board Crew Dragon once more. It willautonomously undock, depart the space station and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.
They will splashdown off Florida’s Atlantic coast, from where the crew will be picked up by the SpaceX recovery ship and returned to the dock at Cape Canaveral.
More by this authorPaul Brackley
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