(Image source from: time.com)
Elon Musk’s Space Company, SpaceX delivered two astronauts to the international Space Station for NASA on Sunday, marking this as a historic liftoff for the company’s first with a very smooth docking as well.
Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, the test pilots of the capsule were ready to implement manual control, if required but the SpaceX Dragon capsule was successful in pulling up and docking into the station in the first attempt automatically without any kind of assistance whatsoever.
"We copy, docking is complete," the crew chimed in.
"It's been a real honour to be a small part of this nine-year endeavor since the last time a United States spaceship has docked with the International Space Station,” they further added.
This is the first time that a privately owned space lab with its own spacecraft carried the astronauts to the oribiting lab in 20 years. NASA regarded this as a breakthrough for the business revolution encircling Earth and eventually stretching on to the Moon and the Mars as well.
The successful docking happened within a matter of 9 hours after the Space X Falcon 9 rocket took off on the Saturday afternoon from the Kennedy Space Centre. This is also regarded as US’ first astronaut launch to orbit home soil in over a decade now.
(Image source from: abcnews.go.com)
Thousands of people gathered around the beaches, bridges and the towns to watch this monumental moment as SpaceX put a stop to the nine-year drought that NASA couldn’t suffice.
Just a few hours before the docking, the crew members onboard reported that the capsule is performing seamlessly. The three space station residents also kept the cameras trained on the incoming capsule for the ease of the flight controllers located at Hawthorne, California, which is where the SpaceX headquarters are located at.
The Dragon was visible within a few miles out with its nose cone open, exposing the docking hook along with the blinking light. The capsule could be seen ever larger on live as NASA TV further closed in on the gap.
Hurley and Behnken took over the controls for a few seconds piloting around, before it was again jammed back into the automatic mode for the final approach. Hurley reported that the capsule performed exceptionally well.
Both SpaceX and NASA have held off of any celebrations until the docking was successful followed by the safe return of both the astronauts back to Earth this summer.
NASA is still working out the dates till which Hurley and Behnken will be stating in the space station, which is likely going to be somewhere between one to four months. While there, the Dragon capsule astronauts will also join one US astronaut along with two Russian astronauts.
The astronauts also gave a quick tour of the sparkling clean insides of the Dragon capsule, showcasing how spacious it was. The astronauts reported that the liftoff itself was quite bumpy and dynamic but that was something that they did expect beforehand.
Behnken, who took their young sons’ blue sequined dinosaur, Tremor, said that he is in good shape too. Tremor is going to join Earthy, which is a plush globe delivered to the space station last year. Behnken also assured that both the toys will be returning with them at the mission’s end.
Musk later reported in an interview that the capsule’s return is going to be more dangerous that the liftoff but the complications are still not foreseen. But, even with that, seeing the safe docking and getting the two astronauts to the space station made everyone breath a sign of relief.
"This is hopefully the first step on a journey toward a civilisation on Mars," said Musk.
By Somapika Dutta