Four astronauts aboard a SpaceX space capsule arrived at the International Space Station on Tuesday. It is the first time that the US space agency NASA paid a private company for a manned mission with a spacecraft.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Capsule called Resilience arrived at the ISS just after 5:00 a.m., some 27 hours after launch with a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral space base in Florida. Onboard were three American astronauts and a Japanese.
The ISS, which orbits the Earth at an altitude of 400 kilometres, will be their home for the next six months. Then they are relieved by four colleagues who are also brought to the ISS with a Crew Dragon Capsule.
That rotation will continue until aircraft manufacturer Boeing joins the project with its own new spacecraft at the end of next year.
The Crew Dragon Capsule has taken roughly a decade to develop. The project was financed partly with public money and partly with private money. It was started by NASA in 2011 to send more people back into space.
The launch, Sunday, was NASA’s first operational mission under the program. Last summer, Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX made the first flight with two astronauts.