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Old SpaceX capsule delivers new crew to space station

Floating base: For the next few days, the space station will be home to 11 astronauts, just shy of the record of 13 set during NASA's space shuttle era.   | Photo Credit: dima_zel

A recycled SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday.

The Dragon capsule docked autonomously with the orbiting outpost 420 kilometres above the Indian Ocean, a day after launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The new arrivals – representing the U.S., France and Japan – will spend six months at the space station. They’ll replace four astronauts who will return to Earth in their own Dragon capsule Wednesday.

It was the first time two SpaceX crew Dragons were parked there at the same time – practically side by side.

Third crew flight

Although this was SpaceX’s third crew flight for NASA, it was the first to use a vehicle that’s flown before. The Dragon capsule was used for Space’'s first crew launch last May, while the Falcon rocket soaring Friday hoisted crew two in November.

Fully automated

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur – the commander and pilot of the arriving Dragon – monitored their capsule’s flat screen computers as the space station loomed ever larger. They could have taken control if necessary, but the autonomous system did its job, much like a self-driving car.

Also checking into the space station: France’s Thomas Pesquet and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide. Both have lived there before, as has Kimbrough. It was the first station visit for Megan McArthur.

For the next four days, the space station will be home to 11 astronauts, just shy of the record of 13 set during NASA's space shuttle era.


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 1:59:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/old-spacex-capsule-delivers-new-crew-to-space-station/article34402260.ece

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