SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endurance arrives at space station with four Crew-3 astronauts

CAPE CANAVERAL (Fla.) -- The SpaceX Crew-3 mission brought four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). A new SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule docked at the orbiting laboratory Thursday night (Nov. 11).
Crew Dragon Endurance launched SpaceX's four crewed flights for NASA on Wednesday, Nov. 10. It connected with the station's U.S. Harmony module at 6 :32 p.m. ET (2332 GMT). Both spacecraft flew 263 miles (423 km) above Eastern Caribbean.

After a series delays caused by poor weather and a minor medical issue with one crew member, the spacecraft was launched from pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It took less than 24 hours for the spacecraft to launch.

Courtney Beasley, NASA's Director of Communications, stated that capture was confirmed during a live broadcast. "Contact confirmed at 3 :32 p.m. Pacific Time, as the International Space Station (ISS) and Endurance flew above the Caribbean.

Video: SpaceX Crew-3's Dragon spacecraft docks to the space station

Live updates: SpaceX's Crew-3 mission to the astronauts for NASA

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endurance, a SpaceX rocket, is seen docked with International Space Station on November 11, 2021. NASA TV image credit

Today's crew arrived at the ISS aboard Endurance with a group of mostly new space-flyers: NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer, European Space Agency (ESA). (Marshburn is not the only person in the crew who has flown in space.

After their successful launch, the four astronauts safely arrived at the station around 22 hours later. They are now ready to embark on their space mission. At 8:10 p.m. ET (0110 Nov.12 GMT), they will open the hatches between the Crew Dragon and station.

Beasley stated that Crew Dragon had officially reached the ISS.

Although the Crew was delayed longer than expected, Wednesday night's Crew launch was flawless. Officials from SpaceX and NASA said that the Crew launched on Wednesday night in perfect timing. They also stated that the loop was one of NASA's quietest yet. This means that there were no problems during the countdown.

Marshburn shared a video tour of Dragon Endurance's spacecraft with the Crew on Thursday morning. He said that his crewmembers, all rookies, were adapting well to space and had a good appetite. This is not always the case for every spaceflight.

Endurance arrived at station 38 minutes earlier than expected. The docking sequence went smoothly, with only a brief hold at waypoint 2, approximately 20 meters (66ft) from the station's docking port. While the teams waited for better lighting conditions, Endurance docked with ISS.

After a successful docking, Expedition 66's three-person crew, including NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, will meet the new station residents and help them aboard. NASA decided to send the Crew-2 astronauts home after the delays in launch, and Vande Hei will be responsible for orienting the new crew members with the space station.

NASA refers to this as an indirect handoff. It involves helping the crew adapt to space life, such as where they will sleep and how they use the toilet. These housekeeping duties are typically left to the departing crew. However, Vande Hei will take over because they returned early.

SpaceX mission controllers radioed to crew, "Docking completed, welcome to International Space Station."

Marshburn spoke on behalf of crew, "Endurance copies and happy to be at the ISS."

This graphic shows all visiting vehicles that docked at International Space Station upon the arrival of SpaceX Crew-3 on Nov. 11, 2021. NASA TV image credit

Crew-3's arrival brings the total number onboard the ISS up to seven. Five are in the U.S. segment and two are on the Russian side.

They will be spending the next six months living and working in space as the four new residents to the orbiting outpost. The station orbits at an average distance of 250 miles (400 km) above the Earth and will host more than 200 science experiments. They will also conduct spacewalks.

Crew-4 will be SpaceX's next crewed space mission to the station. It is currently scheduled to launch in April 2022.

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