Sunday became a great day for NASA and aerospace company SpaceX. At 10:16 a.m. Eastern Time, SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule successfully docked at the International Space Station, completing the first stage of a historic mission.
They made it. After launching from @NASAKennedy on the @SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft yesterday, @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug have officially joined the @Space_Station crew today at 1:02pm ET — making history in the process. pic.twitter.com/A7oExw0SlD
— NASA (@NASA) May 31, 2020
U.S. astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken who were on board, have already shared their impressions of the journey. Doug Hurley said he “couldn’t be happier” about the performance of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon that traveled at a speed of 17,500 mph.
“The Dragon was a slick vehicle, and we had good airflow, so we had an excellent, excellent evening.”
Bob Behnken added:
“It’s been a real honor to be just a small part of this nine-year endeavor since the last time the United States has docked with the International Space Station. We have to congratulate the men and women of SpaceX … their incredible efforts over the last several years to make this possible cannot go overstated.”
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket arrived at the International Space Station 19 hours after blasting off Saturday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center. Since 2011, it is the first time the US astronauts launched on an American rocket from the US soil to the ISS. Besides, the docking of SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule marked a milestone for reusable rockets SpaceX pioneered to make spaceflight less costly and more frequent.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said that the journey will change NASA’s business in space. Instead of owning and operating the spacecraft, NASA will collaborate with the growing commercial space sector, as it already does with SpaceX.
Initially, NASA planned the astronaut launch for May 27 but postponed it because of bad weather.
According to NASA, the mission will be fully completed when the astronauts get back home. Therefore, as Jim Bridenstine said, they are “not celebrating yet.”
Congratulations, Elon Musk
For SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the docking is also a personal achievement. While having a spacecraft and launch system in the US gives NASA better access to the space station, Musk’s most ambitious goal and “culmination of a dream” is going to Mars.
After the vehicle arrived at the ISS, Musk said:
“”I’m really quite overcome with emotion. It’s been 18 years working towards this goal. This is hopefully the first step on a journey toward a civilization on Mars.”
Elon Musk shared his dream back in the early 2000s at the founding of SpaceX. He wanted to send a little plant to Mars and have it grow there to inspire people about space travel. In 2022, Musk is planning to send an unmanned SpaceX rocket to Mars, carrying only cargo. If successful, by 2024, he is going to transport humans to the planet. By 2050, he wants to send a million people and build a sustainable colony on Mars by 2050.