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SpaceX capsule with 4 astronauts reaches space station

NASA, JAXA crew docked at 11 p.m. ET

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla.***11:16 p.m. Nov. 16, 2020 Update***

SpaceX’s newly launched capsule with four astronauts has arrived at the International Space Station.

The Dragon capsule pulled up and docked late Monday night, following a 27-hour, completely automated flight from Florida.

This is the second astronaut mission for SpaceX. But it’s the first time Elon Musk’s company delivered a crew for a full six-month stay.

The three Americans and one Japanese astronaut will remain at the orbiting lab until their replacements arrive next spring on another Dragon.

They gave a tour of their capsule Monday, and first-time flyer Victor Glover was presented his gold astronaut pin.

***Original***

After a good night’s sleep for four astronauts -- three NASA and one JAXA --aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon in orbit, the crew will prepare to dock at the International Space Station late Monday.

Dragon Commander NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins said the crew “had a very nice sleep” aboard the spacecraft after launching from Kennedy Space Center Sunday evening.

NASA and SpaceX have continued to stream live views from the space station and the Crew Dragon. Docking activity will begin around 10 p.m. Watch live at the top of this story.

Hopkins, along with NASA astronauts Shannon Walker and Victor Glover and Japanese Space Agency astronaut Soichi Nugochi are the second astronauts to ever launch with a private company to the ISS and the second crew to lift off from Florida since 2011. The first return to human spaceflight from Kennedy Space Center happened in May with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

[MORE SPACE NEWS: Astronauts say goodbye to their families before leaving on 6-month space journey | SpaceX launches 4 astronauts on 6-month journey in space | Highlights from SpaceX Crew-1 countdown, liftoff and Falcon 9 landing]

After troubleshooting some issues with propellant heaters that heat the fuel aboard Crew Dragon, the astronauts were able to go to sleep around 1:10 a.m. Monday. The crew began waking up around noon and Hopkins said the sleepover went well.

It’s tradition for astronauts to pick their wake up song in space. According to NASA, this crew woke up to “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. A fitting tune, as the launch and docking is certainly a moment worth waiting for all your life.

The astronauts on what’s known as the Crew-1 mission also have another smaller companion with them in the form of a miniature baby Yoda doll. It’s routine for astronauts flying in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and now with SpaceX’s Dragon, to bring a small soft toy with them as an infallible indicator of weightlessness. When the spacecraft reaches orbit, the toy floats in the cabin. Baby Yoda from Disney’s “Star Wars” spinoff show “The Mandalorian” could be seen floating about the cabin Sunday night before the astronauts caught some shut eye.

The astronauts have a long day ahead. Along the way to the ISS, the astronauts will have three meals. Keeping things simple, the Dragon is stocked with MREs, or meals ready to eat.

During a brief video tour of the capsule about 21 hours into the flight, the astronauts showed off the temporary home. Walker said bags are strapped around the spacecraft so they can easily access items they need, including the trail mix she planned to snack on later.

The veteran astronauts, Walker, Hopkins and Soichi, presented Glover with his official astronaut pin, marking his first ever spaceflight. He grinned ear-to-ear and showed the camera the shinny gold pin. When NASA astronauts go through training the receive a silver pin but don’t earn the gold pin until they reach 100 kilometers.

After a few burns, to keep the spacecraft on track, there are more milestones to complete before Dragon arrives at the station.

Walker described being in the capsule as “dancing around each other and waiting for another burn,” in the tight quarters.

Dragon is set to dock at the ISS around 11 p.m. Monday.

Check back for updates throughout the flight and docking.


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