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'SpaceX, this is Resilience': Four astronauts begin 6-month stay on space station

The crew members of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, commander Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, gesture as they depart for the launch pad for the first operational NASA commercial crew mission at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the US, on November 15, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Four astronauts riding a newly-designed spacecraft from Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX greeted their new crew mates aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday after successfully docking in a landmark achievement for private space travel.

In NASA's first full-fledged mission ferrying a crew into orbit on a privately-owned spacecraft, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule dubbed Resilience opened its hatch door shortly after 1 a.m. EST (0600 GMT), two hours after docking and 27 hours after launching atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

A few minutes later, the four astronauts — three American and one Japanese — emerged from the capsule and boarded the station, greeting the existing crew of one US astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts.

The space station, an orbital laboratory orbiting about 400 km above Earth, will be their home for the next six months. After that, another set of astronauts on a Crew Dragon capsule will replace them. That rotation will continue until Boeing joins the program with its own spacecraft late next year.

NASA had been reliant on Russia's space program since 2011, when the US shuttle program ended.

Crew Dragon commander Mike Hopkins arrived with two fellow NASA astronauts, pilot Victor Glover and physicist Shannon Walker, in addition to Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, making his third trip to space after previously flying on the US shuttle in 2005 and Soyuz in 2009.

(Source: Reuters)

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