(ORDO NEWS) — On April 27, the Crew Dragon spacecraft docked with the International Space Station with a new crew of American and European astronauts.
The Crew Dragon Freedom spacecraft docked at the station at 23:37 GMT. The hatches separating the spacecraft and the station opened about an hour and a half later.
The docking occurred more than half an hour ahead of schedule and less than 16 hours after the launch of the Falcon 9 spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center.
This is the shortest docking time for a Crew Dragon mission, although Soyuz spacecraft often arrive at the station hours after launch.
Such a short docking was largely a matter of luck. “It’s just the orbital mechanics of where the ISS is and where it passes over Florida,” Jessica Jensen, vice president of customer experience and integration at SpaceX, said at a post-launch briefing.
The quick meeting was a good one, added Steve Stich, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager, as it avoided conflicts with the Russian spacewalk scheduled for April 28.
Cosmonauts Oleg Artemiev and Denis Matveev will make their second spacewalk in a few weeks to continue work on installing a European robotic arm on the Nauka module.
Crew-4 astronauts – Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency – will begin work on handing over station functions to Crew-3 astronauts, who have been on the station since mid-November. This transfer will take about five days.
Crew-3 astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer of ESA will return to Earth next week on the Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft.
Stitch said undocking is tentatively scheduled for May 4 and launch off the coast of Florida on May 5 “if the weather is good.”
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