The new Crew Dragon spacecraft docked successfully with the International Space Station at 14:30GMT today, 31st May 2020, 19 hours after launch from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, in the United States of America with two NASA astronauts on board.
The Demo-2 mission is a final test flight of the Crew Dragon developed by Spacex as part of the NASA Commercial Crew Programme. The Crew Dragon spacecraft was launched on top of the Falcon 9 rocket, also developed by Spacex.
The NASA astronauts on board are Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. They will test the spacecraft systems in orbit. The spacecraft is able to perform fully autonomous rendezvous and docking. The mission will validate the Spacex crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities.
The new spacecraft has a capable of carrying up to seven astronauts to and from earth orbit. It has a three-screen control panel above the seats, a toilet and the docking hatch.
Spacex founder and CEO Elon Musk celebrated the successful launch inside the Vehicle Assembly Building.
This is also the first time ever that a privately developed spacecraft launched humans into earth’s orbit, and the first time that astronauts launched into space from US soil since 2011.
The development of Crew Dragon is expected to slash drastically the cost of space flight.
Doug Hurley is the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and has completed two spaceflights. Hurley served as pilot and lead robotics operator for the final space shuttle mission, in July 2011.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Tulane University in Louisiana and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland. Before joining NASA, he was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.
The other astronaut, Robert Behnken is the joint operations commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the space station. He was also selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000 and has completed two space shuttle flights.
Behnken has a bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Washington University and earned a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from California Institute of Technology. Before joining NASA, Behnken was a flight test engineer with the U.S. Air Force.