The ISS is now home to a varied international crew that will stay there for five months.
On October 5th, the Crew-5 mission was launched from Florida's NASA Kennedy Space Center, carrying a Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket. After a 29-hour orbital chase, that Dragon, called Endurance, finally connected with the International Space Station (ISS) today, October 6.
At 5:01 p.m. EDT , Endurance made contact with the forward port of the station's Harmony module as the two spacecraft flew over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa. Ten minutes later, the docking process was finished.
Around 6:45 p.m., the hatches between Endurance and the ISS were opened. EDT, and approximately 10 minutes later, the Crew-5 astronauts—Nicole NASA's Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan's Koichi Wakata, and cosmonaut Anna Kikina—flew onto the orbiting lab. They'll spend five months residing aboard the ISS.
Mann, the first Native American woman in space, and Kikina, the first cosmonaut to fly aboard a SpaceX Dragon, have the honor of carrying personal mantles for this journey. Both, as well as Cassada, are first-time space travelers; Wakata has gone to space five times.
SpaceX's Crew-3 mission was also transported to and from the ISS by the Dragon Endurance. Four Crew Dragon capsules, which are updated and put through testing before each subsequent flight, are used by SpaceX. The components used by Endurance during flight were a brand-new heat shield, parachutes, and nose cone.
Although Falcon 9 with a brand-new first stage was used for the Crew-5 liftoff, SpaceX is also well known for using older rockets. The booster was dazzling white and clear of the soot that is typically seen on the company's reflown first stages. It was painted with NASA's worm insignia.
Seven crew members, including four from SpaceX's Crew-4 mission, are already on board the ISS when the Crew-5 astronauts arrive. The countdown to Crew-4's departure from the station, which will occur in roughly a week, starts with the arrival of Crew-5, according to Sarah Walker, director for Dragon mission management at SpaceX.
The exact timing of Crew-4's splashdown return off the coast of Florida is dependent on weather, Walker said during yesterday's post-launch press conference.
CC: NASA, Josh D