SpaceX’s Dragon capsule carrying four astronauts, three Americans and one Japanese, docked on November 17 with the International Space Station (ISS). The first phase of the docking with the ISS, the “soft capture”, ended Tuesday at 04:01 GMT, according to images broadcast live on the Internet by NASA. The second phase, or “hard capture”, took place a few minutes later.
→ IN DETAILS. SpaceX sends astronauts to the ISS
The capsule was launched by a Falcon 9 rocket from private firm SpaceX, NASA’s new means of space transportation after nine years of dependence on Russia. “It is a great day for the United States of America and for Japan,” said Jim Bridenstine, head of NASA, at a press conference.
6 months in space
The Falcon rocket lifted off on time Monday night from the Kennedy Space Center with Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi strapped to the Dragon capsule attached to the top. “It was a hell of a launch”, commented Commander Michael Hopkins once in orbit.
→ ANALYSIS. With SpaceX, America resumes its flight
The first stage quickly detached before returning to land on a drone ship, SpaceX’s trademark. Twelve minutes after takeoff, at an altitude of 200 km and a speed of 27,000 km / h, the Dragon capsule detached from the second stage. The astronauts, who join two Russians and an American in the station, will stay six months in the orbital laboratory, circling the Earth 400 km above the oceans.