NASA Astronauts Behnken and Hurely Reveal the Details of Their Trip to the ISS

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken safely arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) after successfully docked with the orbiting lab.  

They were required to perform some pressure and leak tests before exiting the Crew Dragon capsule, after which they met fellow American astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Both cosmonauts are currently official members of the Expedition 63 crew.  

Making History  

Speaking to the people from the mission control room in Houston, Texas, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “The whole world saw this mission, and we are so, so proud of everything you’ve done for our country and, in fact, to inspire the world.”  

Hurley and Behnken’s 19-hour trip on SpaceX‘s Dragon capsule on board of the powerful Falcon 9 rocket kicked off from Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida on Saturday evening, May 30th. In spite of only flying about 300 miles (483 km) above Earth, the orbiting space station took about a day to reach. The engineers and flight experts had to perform a number of maneuvers in order to raise the rocket‘s orbit enough to dock with the space station.  

Falcon 9 Rocket Launched on Saturday, May 30th, 2020 from Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida with the two astronauts on board. [Image: NASA/SpaceX]
The mission, known as Demo-2, is the first NASA program that launched astronauts from American soil in nine years, as the Space Shuttle program was canceled by former president Barak Obama in 2011 to rely on the rather costly services the Russian Soyuz spacecraft was only able to provide.  

SpaceX also became the first private company to launch humans to space in a historical event. The mission aims to demonstrate the ability of Elon Musk‘s company to send astronauts to the ISS and bring them back safely.  

Endeavour Capsule  

Now there’s only the last major procedure for SpaceX’s astronaut carrier, the Crew Dragon, to be authorized by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program for sustained manned missions to space. The two astronauts have named the Dragon capsule that carried them to the ISS ‘Endeavor,’ as a tribute to Space Shuttle Endeavor, a retired vehicle that was part of NASA’s Space Shuttle program.  

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Capsule [Image: SpaceX]
While the two astronauts are on the space station, they said they hope to put the Dragon capsule in a thorough checkup and help the other members of the crew in various other research.  

Behnken said: “Endeavour is going to get a lot of checkout over the next week or two here, and, hopefully, we will be able to declare her operational. Doug and I will be able to take some burden off Chris and his crewmates Ivan and Anatoli, so that we can keep the space station operating at a peak possibility. So, we are looking forward to contributing any way that we can and, like I said, trying to keep (the) space station as productive as possible.”  

Behnken also talked about their sleeping patterns and said: “We did get probably a good seven hours or so of opportunity for sleep, and I did succeed at sleep, and Doug did as well. The first night is always a bit of a challenge, but the Dragon was a sleek vehicle, and we had good airflow. So, we had an excellent evening.”  

The mission is set to last between one to four months. 

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