Four astronauts, three from NASA and one from the European Space Agency, arrived at the International Space Station on Thursday and docked their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule with the orbiting laboratory to begin a six-month scientific mission.

On Wednesday night, about 21 hours after launching the team and its capsule on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the launch was delayed by a week and a half due to a series of weather delays. .

According to NASA, the docking took place at around 6:30 pm Eastern Standard Time (5 am Eastern Standard Time on Friday), when the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the space station known as Endurance were in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Fly about 260 miles (420 kilometers) above the sky.

The Endurance crew consisted of three American NASA astronauts—44-year-old flight commander Raja Chari, 61-year-old mission pilot Tom Marshburn, and 34-year-old mission expert Kayla Barron—and 51-year-old German astronaut Matthias Maurer, who Is a mission expert for the European Space Agency.

Upon arrival, the crew checked the inventory, performed a standard leak check, and pressurized the space between the spacecraft in preparation for the door to the space station in about two hours.

Real-time NASA video from the station showed newcomers floating head-down from their space capsule through a padded tunnel to the orbital outpost.

They were embraced by three current space station passengers—Russian astronauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy, and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who shared the Soyuz flight to the complex with his Roscosmos crew.

Astronaut wings

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Marshburn, the second in command of Endeavour, is a doctor and former NASA flight surgeon. He has recorded two spaceflights to the space station and four spacewalks.

Maurer, a materials science engineer, is conducting his first space flight, as is the US Air Force fighter and test pilot Chari, and the US Navy submarine officer and nuclear engineer Barron. Shortly after boarding the plane, Marshburn pinned the astronaut’s wings to the collars of his three new colleagues while shaking hands and smiling.

Chari and Barron are also one of the first 18 astronauts on NASA’s upcoming Artemis mission, which is aimed at more than half a century after the end of the Apollo mission to the moon. Humans sent back to the moon.

“I think we all like the cycling here,” Chari said in a brief speech on the station’s welcome ceremony webcast. “This is much smoother than we thought.”

NASA said that SpaceX Dragon also shipped more than 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) of hardware and research equipment.

The crew member who arrived on Thursday was officially named “Crew 3”-this is the third mature “operational” crew member to fly to the space station after NASA and SpaceX conducted a test run with two astronauts in May 2020.

On Monday, “Crew 2” returned to Earth safely from the space station and splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida, setting a record of 199 days in orbit.

SpaceX is a rocket company founded in 2002 by billionaire Elon Musk, the founder of electric car manufacturer Tesla. It has conducted 15 manned space flights in 17 months, including the launch in September The first batch of civilian crew members went to the orbit of the Earth without professional astronauts.

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The space station spans the size of an American football field end-to-end, has been occupied since November 2000, and is operated by international partners from five space agencies in 15 countries.

An international crew of at least seven people usually live and work on the platform while traveling at a speed of 5 miles (8 kilometers) per second, orbiting the earth approximately every 90 minutes.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

By Rebecca French

Rebecca French writes books about Technology and smartwatches. Her books have received starred reviews in Technology Shout, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist. She is a New York Times and a USA Today Bestseller...