SpaceX Crew Dragon docks on the ISS to drop off astronauts

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The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, launched yesterday on its second operational mission, has safely arrived on the International Space Station (ISS). The capsule contains four astronauts from various space agencies who will join the ISS crew to work on scientific research projects on the station.

The Crew Dragon was launched on Friday, April 23 at 5:49 a.m.CET from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She traveled to the space station by Friday and overnight and arrived to begin docking at 5:08 am CET Saturday, April 24th.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon approaches its docking port on the space station with the Kibo laboratory module in the foreground. NASA TV

The astronauts on board the Crew Dragon were NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur as well as astronaut Akihiko Hoshide from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and astronaut Thomas Pesquet from ESA (European Space Agency). The four new faces were greeted on board by the current ISS crew when the hatch between the Crew Dragon and the ISS was opened at 7:05 a.m. CET.

The four new SpaceX Crew 2 astronauts joined the Expedition 65 crew today, increasing the station population to 11. The four new SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts joined the Expedition 65 crew today, increasing the station population to 11. NASA TV

That means there are now 11 people aboard the space station, which NASA says is “a number that has not been seen since the space shuttle era.” This includes six NASA astronauts, two JAXA astronauts, one ESA astronaut and two Roscosmos cosmonauts. While this means the station is currently very full, it will not stay that way for long as NASA’s Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover and JAXA’s Soichi Noguichi will soon be leaving the station and returning to Earth.

Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk had a message for the new crew: “Thank you for everything you do for the agency, the country and the world,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a great expedition.” He also thanked the existing crew members and paid tribute to their work, including upgrading the space station’s power systems and conducting research.

The new crew will continue upgrading the power system with more spacewalks and will conduct scientific research on topics such as the use of tissue chips, which are small models of human organs that can be used to test drugs and vaccines.

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