SpaceX Crew-1 booster returns to Port Canaveral; Astronauts rave about ride to ISS

Four astronauts who recently arrived on the Space Station via the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft smiled ear-to-ear describing their journey into space Thursday, meanwhile the rocket booster used for the launch is set to return to Port Canaveral later in the day.

NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with Japanese Space Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi launched Sunday night on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center. After 27 hours in space the astronauts arrived to the space station where NASA astronaut Kate Rubins was waiting to greet them at docking.

[TRENDING: County prepares for vaccine | Remote learning continues in spring | ‘We’re failing:’ Mayors call for COVID-19 action]

The international crew of astronauts is now four days into their six month long journey onboard the space station. The launch marked SpaceX’s second astronaut mission for NASA.

The American and Japanese astronaut crew answered some questions on Thursday about the new arrivals on ISS. With two Russian astronauts there are now seven on board the orbiting laboratory.

“The Dragon is the best,” Soichi said, who had now flown on three spacecraft. “I feel Dragon really ready to go up, it’s really fun to ride and two days in Dragon (created) really remarkable memories.”

Hopkins, the spacecraft commander, said describing the ride on a Falcon 9 as “exciting” just doesn’t do it justice.

“You can tell it wants to get off the ground,” Hopkins said of the moments before liftoff, adding “It just leapt off the pad.”

The Falcon 9 booster, with a slight lean, floated past Jetty Park to docking at Port Canaveral Thursday afternoon. The booster will be used again next year to launch another round of astronauts for NASA to the International Space Station.

A device known as the “octograbber” was holding onto the booster’s as it had clearly shifted on the journey home, tilting heavily to the side of the Of Course I Still Love You droneship. Crews at the port will secure the booster and then remove it using a large crane.

[RELATED: Highlights from the SpaceX Crew-1 countdown, liftoff and Falcon 9 landing]

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

Rubins said she was thrilled to see Glover float through the ISS hatch because this was his first spaceflight. The newbie space explorer is known as “IKE” for “I know everything” but his fellow astronauts.

“I was so excited to see Ike’s face coming through that hatch,” Rubins said, adding she exclaimed “Oh my gosh you’re here!” upon seeing her crew mates.

This is the first time Elon Musk’s company delivered a crew for a full six-month stay.

About the Authors: