The uncrewed SpaceX capsule made history earlier this morning (March 3) when it docked at the space station, becoming the first commercial crew vehicle to ever visit the orbiting laboratory and the first to launch into orbit from US soil since NASA's space shuttle Atlantis in 2011.
SpaceX's 16-foot-tall (4.9 meters) Crew Dragon capsule, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, lifted off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 2:49 a.m. (0749 GMT), carrying a test dummy nicknamed Ripley. But the three station astronauts had front-row seats as the Dragon neatly docked Sunday morning and became the first American-made, designed-for-crew spacecraft to pull up in eight years.
If all goes well, SpaceX's first crewed mission, which will fly NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, could happen by July, according to NASA's most recent schedule.
During the mission, SpaceX will test a variety of systems and components: the module's environmental control systems, solar arrays, electrical power systems, communication systems, propulsion systems and more.
The demonstration flight of America's new astronaut capsule will see it attempt to dock with the International Space Station (ISS).
The next stage in Demo-1 is for it to autonomously dock with the International Space Station (ISS), where it will remain for 5 days.
Space X is entrepreneur Elon Musk's company. The capsule's nose cap was wide open like a dragon's mouth, to expose the docking mechanism. SpaceX engineers dubbed the dummy Ripley, a nod to the movie Alien. The space station is orbiting Earth at an altitude of 400 kilometers.
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"The next big leap in a new chapter of USA human spaceflight systems has left the pad", NASA wrote on Twitter.
Just two hours after the Dragon's grand entrance, the station crew entered to take air samples.
"Our honest congratulations to all earthlings who have enabled the opening of this next chapter in space exploration", NASA astronaut Anne McClain said from aboard the ISS during a welcoming ceremony for the Crew Dragon.
Ever since NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011, the USA has been hitching rides to and from the space station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Astronauts have been stuck riding Russian rockets ever since NASA's space shuttle program ended in 2011. If all goes well, Boeing would then have a launch-pad abort test no earlier than May and a crewed flight test no earlier than August.
"We're going to learn a ton from this mission", said Kathy Lueders, the manager of Nasa's Commercial Crew programme.
"Congratulations to all of the teams on a successful docking", NASA astronaut Anne McClain radioed from the station.