- SpaceX on Saturday launched its first crewed mission into space with the flight of NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.
- The astronauts’ Crew Dragon spaceship, which they named Endeavour once in orbit, spent the night catching up to the $US150 billion International Space Station (ISS).
- The crew is performing a docking procedure that will fly them from about 400 meters below the ISS, up to 220 meters in front of it, and then in for a docking at roughly 10:39 a.m. ET.
- You can watch and listen in on the historic mission, called Demo-2, by watching NASA and SpaceX’s joint broadcast on YouTube.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Update (10:26 a.m. ET): The astronauts successfully docked to the International Space Station. Read our full coverage here.
After hurling two NASA astronauts into space for the first time, SpaceX is attempting to dock the crew to the International Space Station (ISS).
If the operation is a success, it will mark the first crewed docking of a privately developed spaceship.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle is carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, each of whom have flown to space twice on space shuttles, which the space agency retired in July 2011. Their spaceflight is the first in nearly nine years that has launched from US soil and into orbit.
Once they were in space, the astronauts named their ship Endeavour.
“I know most of you, at SpaceX especially, know it as Capsule 206,” Hurley, the commander of the Demo-2 mission said shortly after launch, as GeekWire reported. “But I think all of us thought that maybe we could do a little bit better than that. So, without further ado, we would like to welcome you aboard capsule Endeavour.”
The name, and its unusual spelling, comes from the first spacecraft both astronauts ever flew on: NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour.
“It just meant so much to us to carry on that name,” Hurley added.
Endeavour is supposed to latch on to the ISS at 10:39 a.m. ET. Most of the operation is automated, though Behnken and Hurley, being on a test flight, will try flying the vehicle themselves for a moment.
During the docking, the ship will stop about 400 meters below the space station, then slowly pull up to about 220 meters ahead of the forward Node 2 of the football field-size, $US150 billion orbiting laboratory. The astronauts will then override the autopilot to try out some manoeuvres. Assuming all goes well, the crew will hand control back to the ship’s autopilot and let it inch forward toward the ISS.
Just before docking operations, as the astronauts donned their spacesuits – just in case the docking goes awry – mission control in Hawthorne reminded the astronauts to finish setting up the cabin for the operation.
“Friendly reminder to please unlatch the toilet button before you get back in your seat,” a SpaceX ground controller said from the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
“OK, we’ll unlatch the toilet button,” Hurley said.
Watch the docking process live on YouTube
Once the Crew Dragon docks, NASA and SpaceX expects the spaceship and ISS hatches to open around 12:45 p.m. ET.
After that, Behnken and Hurley will float out of Endeavour and into the space station, where a crew of two Russian cosmonauts and another NASA astronaut will greet them. The joint crews will then hold a docking ceremony at 1:15 p.m. ET, according to NASA TV.
Behnken and Hurley will then begin a stay at the station that could last up to 110 days before they return to Earth.