The SpaceX capsule with 4 astronauts docks with the Worldwide House Station

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© Reuters. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, crowned with the Crew Dragon capsule, is launched from Cape Canaveral

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From Joey Roulette

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four astronauts riding a newly designed spacecraft from Elon Musk’s SpaceX docked at the International Space Station on Monday evening, on the first crewed mission on a privately built space capsule purchased by NASA.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience by its crew of three Americans and a Japanese astronaut, laid down 27 hours after launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:01 p.m. EST (4: 01 GMT).

The space station, an orbital laboratory about 400 km above the earth, will be their home for the next six months. After that, they will be replaced by another group of astronauts on a Crew Dragon capsule. This rotation will continue until Boeing (NYSE 🙂 joins the program with its own spaceship at the end of next year.

The Resilience crew includes Crew Dragon commander Mike Hopkins and two other NASA astronauts: mission pilot Victor Glover and physicist Shannon Walker. They are joined by the Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who is making his third space trip after flying with the US shuttle in 2005 and with Soyuz in 2009.

Another US astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts are on board the space station from a previous mission.

“Welcome to the ISS. We can’t wait to have you on board,” said Kate Rubins, a US astronaut who is already on the space station.

Before SpaceX’s Crew Dragon received its flight certification from NASA last week, it had been under a NASA public-private program for about a decade, launched in 2011 to revive the agency’s manned space capability.

The launch on Sunday evening was SpaceX’s first operational mission for NASA under this program after a test flight last summer with a crew of two US astronauts.

(This story corrects the Greenwich Mean Time conversion in paragraph 2)

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