Astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon dock with the International Space Station

SpaceX and NASA make history with launch
After a historic launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft synchronized with the space station on Sunday morning.

The spacecraft made a careful approach, easing its way to its destination over the course of 19 hours. At 10:16 am ET on Sunday, the vehicle made a “soft catch,” meaning Crew Dragon made its first physical contact with its docking port on the International Space Station.

Crew Dragon will now perform a “hard catch”, which involves using 12 latches to create an air seal between Behnken and Hurley’s crew cabin and his entrance to the space station. Astronauts are expected to leave Crew Dragon around 12:30 p.m. ET. They will be joined by fellow NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who are already aboard the International Space Station.

Compared to the big drama on Saturday’s release, the docking may seem like a slow burn.

At one point, the webcast host mentioned that Crew Dragon was moving a fraction of a meter per second toward its destination. That, however, is only relatively relative: Both the spacecraft and the space station were still traversing orbit at more than 17,000 miles per hour (approximately 27,000 kilometers per hour). But because they were traveling at similar speeds, the cameras on board the station made it appear as though Crew Dragon was moving slowly.

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Cory Weinberg

About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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