The autonomous flying spacecraft, with four crew members on board, successfully docked Friday morning.
A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule has arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS), carrying two American astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates to begin a six-month science mission.
The autonomous flying spacecraft named Endeavor docked with the space station shortly after 06:40 GMT on Friday, nearly 25 hours after liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The pairing was confirmed when the ISS and capsule flew together at 28,164 km/h (17,500 miles per hour), about 240 km (250 miles) above Earth along the coast of East Africa, according to a live NASA webcast of the rendezvous.
The four-member team was tasked with conducting more than 200 experiments and technology demonstrations aboard the space station, ranging from researching the growth of human cells in space to controlling combustible materials in microgravity.
Some of the research will pave the way for future long-duration human expeditions to the moon and beyond under NASA’s Artemis program, the successor to Apollo, the U.S. space agency said.
The ISS crew is also responsible for performing maintenance and repairs aboard the station and preparing for the arrival and departure of other astronauts and payloads.
Designated Crew 6, the mission marks the sixth long-duration ISS team that SpaceX has flown for NASA since the private rocket company founded by billionaire Elon Musk began sending American astronauts into orbit in May 2020. Musk is CEO of electric car maker Tesla and social media platform Twitter.
The newest crew was led by Stephen Bowen, 59, a former U.S. Navy submarine officer who has logged more than 40 days in orbit as a veteran of three Space Shuttle flights and seven spacewalks.
Fellow NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 37, an electrical engineer, computer science expert and designated commercial aviator, made his first spaceflight.
The Crew 6 mission was also notable for its inclusion of UAE astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi, 41, the second person from his country to fly to space and the first to launch from US soil as part of a long-duration space station team.
Rounding out the four-man Crew 6 was Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, 42, who, like al-Neyadi, is an engineer and spaceflight rookie, was designated mission specialist for the team.
Fedyaev is the second cosmonaut to fly aboard a US spacecraft under a renewed ride-sharing agreement signed in July by NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, despite heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Upon arrival, the crew prepared to perform a series of standard leak checks and pressurize the passageway between the capsule and the ISS before they could open the hatch to the space station’s interior.
The Crew 6 team is welcomed aboard the space station by seven current ISS occupants: three NASA crew members, including Commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Native American woman to fly to space, along with three Russians and a Japanese astronaut.
Those seven are expected to finish their mission this month and leave the space station. Four will return in the SpaceX Dragon they launched into orbit in October, and three others will ride home in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that flew empty to the ISS last week to replace one that caused a coolant leak while docked at the station in December.