Four members of the Crew-2 Space-X mission safely arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday, docking at the orbiting lab's Harmony module onboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft, Endeavor.

Endeavor carried astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA, Akihiro Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency for a six-month tour of duty in the station.

Crew Dragon Capsule Links Up with ISS

The spacecraft linked up with the Harmony module at around 0900 GMT as both spacecraft traversed 264 miles above the Indian Ocean, a Space.com report said. It launched from NASA Kennedy Space Center's pad 039A in Florida on Friday, April 23.

It took the astronauts 23 hours since their lift off to reach the ISS.

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International Space Station commander Shannon Walker welcomed the fresh Space X crew aboard.

Most Number of Astronauts in the ISS since the Space Shuttle program

The mission brings the total number of astronauts in the research lab to 11, the most number of astronauts sharing space at the ISS since the Space Shuttle program. They join Walker, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA, Soichi Noguchi of JAXA, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyott Dubrov, a SciTech Daily report said.

Crew Dragon
(Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons)

The crew members first opened the hatch between the pressurized mating adapter and the space station at 1105 GMT and opened the Crew Dragon's hatch.

After the Crew Dragon's link up with the Harmony module, the Crew-2 and ISS astronauts had standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft as they opened hatches at 1115 GMT.

Crew Dragon Mission Marks Several Firsts for SpaceX

The Crew Dragon spacecraft previously brought NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Dough Hurley to the ISS on SpaceX's Demo-2 test flight, the first time a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft was reused for a mission, and two Crew Dragon vehicles were docked simultaneously, a CNBC report revealed. The company likewise reused both the rocket and capsule for the mission with Endeavor previously carrying the Demo-2 mission and the Falcon-9 rocket booster, which launched the Crew-1 into space.

In addition, Space X exceeded the total number of astronauts brought to space by the 1958 Mercury program.

Endeavor joins the first Crew Dragon spacecraft on the ISS "Resilience," another Crew Dragon spacecraft on the ISS since November 2020. SpaceX is expected to bring Resilience back to Earth, with the four Crew-1 astronauts on Wednesday, April 28.

 The Crew-2 mission became the second "operational" space station team that NASA launched using a Crew Dragon capsule since such human spaceflight missions resumed last year in the US after a nine-year break.

NASA Commercial Crew Program

It also is the third crew brought into orbit in the past 11 months under NASA's alliance with SpaceX, which was launched in 2002 by Elon Musk, as part of the space agency's Commercial Crew Program to attain the stated goal of "safe, reliable, and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit."

The program also links to the NASA Artemis and Moon to Mars programs. Artemis seeks to bring the first woman and next man to the Moon in 2024, and offer sustainable exploration by the decade's end. Artemis will further prepare projected human missions to Mars.

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