Four astronauts riding a newly designed spacecraft from Elon Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX, greeted their new crewmates aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday after successfully docking in a landmark achievement for private space travel.
In NASA’s first full-fledged mission ferrying a crew into orbit on a privately-owned spacecraft, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule dubbed Resilience opened its hatch door shortly after 1 a.m. EST (0600 GMT), two hours after docking and 27 hours after launching atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
“SpaceX, this is Resilience. Excellent job. Right down the center,” Crew Dragon commander Mike Hopkins said from the spacecraft after docking. “SpaceX and NASA, congratulations, this is a new era of operational flights to the International Space Station from the Florida coast.”
The space station, an orbital laboratory about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, will be their home for the next six months. After that, another set of astronauts on a Crew Dragon capsule will replace them. That rotation will continue until Boeing joins the program with its own spacecraft late next year.