After successfully launching early on Saturday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX’s next-generation passenger spacecraft Crew Dragon has docked itself to a free dock on the International Space Station at 5:51 am EST this morning.
The first @Commercial_Crew mission arrived at the space station today when the @SpaceX #CrewDragon completed soft capture on the Harmony module at 5:51am ET. #LaunchAmerica https://t.co/Bgcgac0O50 pic.twitter.com/KfNFpHxpGx
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) March 3, 2019
The footage, courtesy of the official International Space Station Twitter account, shows Crew Dragon slowly lining up its port with the ISS and approaching slowly.
Crew Dragon docked after visiting a number of other locations outside of the space station, using its thrusters, earlier this morning to test its docking system.
The hatch opened at 8:10 am EST.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 3, 2019
Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques, two astronauts currently on board the ISS, started preparing to open the hatch that leads to the Crew Dragon from inside the station when it docked. Once they got inside, they were greeted by SpaceX’s dummy “Ripley.”
Astronauts on the @Space_Station have opened the hatch on @SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft! The station crew can now go inside the first American spacecraft to autonomously dock to the orbiting laboratory. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/z2rP5MWCqu
— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) March 3, 2019
It’s yet another historic moment for the Crew Dragon mission as the docking procedure is quite different this time when compared to previous Dragon missions: “Dragon was basically hovering under the ISS,” said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of mission assurance at SpaceX during a pre-launch briefing on Thursday.
“You can see how it moves back and forth and then the [Canadarm] takes it to a berthing bay.”
In contrast, the Crew Dragon’s docking system is active, he said: “it will plant itself in front of the station and use a docking port on its own, no docking arm required.”
A New Visitor
Five days from now, Crew Dragon will undock and makes its long way back to Earth. This time around, it will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean — previous (cargo) Dragon missions have touched down in the Pacific.