Early Sunday morning, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour docked to the International Space Station (ISS) carrying Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA’s Akihiko Hoshide and ESA’s Thomas Pesquet. Crew-2 astronauts lifted off atop a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket on Friday, April 23 at 5:49 a.m. EDT. It is SpaceX’s third crewed flight and second operational mission of six that are planned as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “We had an incredible launch,” Kimbrough said as they cruised around Earth. The Falcon 9 and Endeavour are the same rocket and spacecraft that lifted off SpaceX's first crewed flight in May last year.
During Crew-2’s exciting 24-hour-long ride to the orbiting laboratory the crew experienced an unexpected encounter with space junk. The space junk encounter, called a conjunction, occurred at 1:43 p.m. EDT on Friday, as the four astronauts were preparing to sleep. “For awareness, we have identified a late breaking possible conjunction with a fairly close miss distance to Dragon,” SpaceX representative Sarah Gilles told Crew-2 about 20 minutes before the conjunction event. “As such, we do need you to immediately proceed with suit donning and securing yourselves in seats.” Around a minute later, Gilles told the crew that the debris passed them without incident –“Dragon, SpaceX, we have passed TCA with no impact,” Gilles said over the radio. UPDATE: On April 25 U.S. Space Command Lt. Col. Erin Dick announced there was no collision threat. "Upon further analysis, 18 SPCS quickly determined the potential conjunction between the Crew-2 capsule and the object was an inaccurate report," they said.
Crew Dragon Endeavour safely docked to ISS’s forward-facing port on the Harmony module at 5:08 a.m. EDT after a 24-hour-long voyage. The Endeavour spacecraft docked autonomously as it was flying 264 miles above the Indian Ocean. Endeavour docked next to Crew Dragon Resilience which transported Crew-1 astronauts in November. SpaceX plans to return Resilience to Earth with the four Crew-1 astronauts on Wednesday, April 28. It is the first time SpaceX has two crews at ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program.
Soft capture confirmed! At 5:08am ET (9:08 UT), Crew Dragon Endeavour arrived at the @Space_Station for the second time in its history. Next, the capture hooks will connect the spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory. pic.twitter.com/VdX8VPHeOH— NASA (@NASA) April 24, 2021
Crew-2 astronauts joined the seven Expedition 65 crew members already aboard the ISS and the four Crew-1 astronauts. They welcomed Crew-2 as they opened the spacecraft’s hatch at 7:05 a.m. EDT to enter the Space Station where they will work on science research for the next six months. “Endeavour arriving! Welcome to the Space Station, Crew-2! Their arrival means there are now 11 humans aboard our orbiting laboratory, a number not seen since the space shuttle era. Hugs abound,” the agency announced, video below. “I’m really proud of the SpaceX team and honored to be partnered with NASA and helping JAXA and ESA as well,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said after the successful launch. “We’re thrilled to be a part of advancing human spaceflight and looking forward to going beyond Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars and helping make humanity a space-faring civilization and a multi-planet species one day.”
"Endeavour arriving!" Welcome to the @Space_Station, Crew-2!— NASA (@NASA) April 24, 2021
Their arrival means there are now 11 humans aboard our orbiting laboratory, a number not seen since the space shuttle era. Hugs abound. pic.twitter.com/uSwW3JFl6K
All Images Source: NASA
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.