The second operational SpaceX crew mission arrived at the International Space Station early on Saturday morning, carrying four astronauts for a six month stay in space.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft ‘Endeavour,’ which launched on a Falcon 9 rocket the day before, docked with the ISS at 5:22 a.m. EDT. The capsule carries an international cadre of astronauts: NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA’s Akihiko Hoshide and ESA’s Thomas Pesquet.
“Welcome to ISS, we are so excited to have you aboard,” NASA astronaut and space station commander Shannon Walker said.
The Crew-2 mission temporarily brings the total number of astronauts on board the orbiting research laboratory to 11.
Endeavour joins another Crew Dragon spacecraft, ‘Resilience,’ which arrived at the space station in November carrying astronauts for the Crew-1 mission. SpaceX is planning to return Resilience to Earth with the four Crew-1 astronauts on Wednesday, April 28.
The Crew-2 mission marks additional firsts for SpaceX as well, with the company reusing both a rocket and a capsule for the mission, with Endeavour previously flying the Demo-2 mission and the Falcon 9 rocket booster previously launching the Crew-1 mission. Additionally, SpaceX surpassed the total number of astronauts launched to space under the Mercury program that began in 1958.