A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday (Aug. 27) and began a half-year mission carrying a new crew of astronauts to the orbiting laboratory.
Crew Dragon capsule Endurance docked at the International Space Station (ISS). At 9:16 a.m. EDT (1313 GMT), after flying a wide loop around the orbital outpost, it docked in the port facing a spot on the outpost’s US-built Harmony module. Dragon and the station were soaring 261 miles above Australia at the time.
“Thank you very much,” NASA’s Crew-7 commander Jasmine Mogbeli radioed SpaceX Mission Control after the successful docking. “I have to remind myself that this isn’t a dream.”
The docking marked the end of a nearly 30-hour journey for the four-person crew of the capsule, which launched early Saturday morning from NASA’s Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But it was the start of something bigger, a six-month mission for Mokbeli and his three employees.
“This is the first step of the journey, the real work begins now,” European Space Agency Crew-7 pilot Andreas Mogensen said on SpaceX Radio. “On the International Space Station, we have a lot of work ahead of us that we look forward to.”
The Crew-7 astronauts docked between their Dragon and the ISS at 10:58 a.m. EDT (1458 GMT), joining the seven astronauts already on the station. All 11 astronauts gathered for a short welcome ceremony to begin their joint mission.
SpaceX’s Crew-7 mission for NASA sent Mokbeli to the ISS with a truly international crew: pilot Mogensen of ESA; Mission specialists Konstantin Borisov of Russia’s Roscosmos agency and Satoshi Furukawa of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The quartet is the first all-international crew to fly in a single Dragon capsule, with members from four different agencies and countries.
The mission is SpaceX’s seventh operational commercial crew flight for NASA, and the company’s eighth flight for the US space agency overall (including a crew test flight). This is SpaceX’s 11th crewed mission in recent years, including three private astronauts. SpaceX is one of two private companies with multibillion-dollar contracts to fly astronauts to the ISS for NASA. (Boeing is another, with its first crew test flight delayed to early 2024.)
The Crew-7 astronauts will spend six months aboard the space station before returning to Earth on September 2, releasing four astronauts from NASA’s Crew-6 mission.
Crew-7 was the first space flight for Moghbeli, a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who became only the second Iranian-American to fly in space in an aircraft. This was Borisov’s first flight.
Related: Meet the Crew-7 astronauts flying with SpaceX
Although Morgensen and Furukawa had both flown to the ISS before, Morgensen was the first European to pilot a SpaceX Dragon capsule. SpaceX’s Endurance capsule also served as an astronaut, sending Crew-3 and Crew-5 astronauts to the station for NASA.
NASA and SpaceX hosted a special treat for Crew-7’s arrival at the ISS on Sunday.
“We’re going to fly around the International Space Station and get some really cool photos and show what an amazing outpost we have here,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s space station program manager, told reporters.
Cameras on the fly-by space station allowed us to capture spectacular views of the Dragon Endurance capsule with the blue Earth in the background.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 27 to reflect the successful docking of SpaceX’s Crew-7 Dragon capsule with its four astronauts.