SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon with four astronauts onboard docks at ISS: NASA

Washington: Four astronauts aboard the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon-2 have arrived at the International Space Station for a six-month mission, NASA said in a statement.

The spacecraft, named Endeavour by the crew, docked to the space station about 5.10 a.m. on Saturday. It had lifted-off at 5.49.02 a.m. EDT from the Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday.

The four astronauts on board are NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur — who will serve as the mission’s spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihikoa-Hoshidea and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomasa-Pesquet, who will serve as mission specialists to the space station.

The crew members first opened the hatch between the space station and the pressurised mating adapter at 7:05 a.m. EDT then opened the hatch to Crew Dragon, NASA said.

“Endeavour arriving!” Welcome to the space station, Crew 2! Their arrival means there are now 11 humans aboard our orbiting laboratory, a number not seen since the space shuttle era. Hugs abound, NASA said in a tweet on Saturday.

The Crew-2 joined Expedition 65 crew of crew of Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA, as well as Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.

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Meanwhile, the Crew-2 had a brief moment of suspense as a piece of space debris passed unexpectedly close by their Endeavour capsule, reported. It occurred at 1:43 p.m. EDT (1743 GMT) as the four Crew-2 astronauts were preparing to sleep after a long day, the report said.

“For awareness, we have identified a late breaking possible conjunction with a fairly close miss distance to Dragon,” the report cited, SpaceX’s Sarah Gilles telling the astronauts about 20 minutes before the conjunction on Friday. “As such, we do need you to immediately proceed with suit donning and securing yourselves in seats.”

Gilles told the astronauts to get back into their spacesuits and seats as a safety precaution in case of an impact. However, it passed with no impact.

“Dragon, SpaceX, we have passed TCA with no impact,” Gilles said of the debris. The distance and composition of the debris was not immediately clear, the report said.

The Crew-2 mission is the second of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The Crew-2 members will conduct science and maintenance during a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory and will return no earlier than October 31, according to NASA.

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