Nasa astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have reached the International Space Station (ISS), nearly 19 hours after lift-off.
The pair began their journey on SpaceX’s the Crew Dragon capsule on top of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Saturday evening.
Although the space station orbits at around 220 miles above the planet, it took almost a day for the Dragon to rendezvous with the moving laboratory.
Docking confirmed! @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug officially docked to the @Space_Station at 10:16am ET: pic.twitter.com/hCM4UvbwjR
— NASA (@NASA) May 31, 2020
The spacecraft had to perform a series of manoeuvres to raise its obit to come close enough to dock at the space station.
The Dragon docked autonomously to a port on the bow section of the station’s Harmony module.
Once the Dragon is sealed in place and pressure checks are completed, the hatch door will open and Mr Hurley and Mr Behnken will join the three other space station residents, Nasa’s Chris Cassidy and Russia’s Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, to become members of the Expedition 63 crew.
Live views of @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug testing manual control of Dragon on approach to @space_station → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdK pic.twitter.com/bbRQ8uAZ6u
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 31, 2020
The mission, named Demo-2, marks the first time Nasa has launched astronauts from US soil in nine years.
SpaceX also made history by becoming the first private company to send humans into orbit.
The aim of the mission is to demonstrate SpaceX’s ability to ferry astronauts to the space station and back safely.
It is the final major step required by SpaceX’s astronaut carrier, the Crew Dragon, to get certified by Nasa’s Commercial Crew Programme for long-term manned missions to space.
The mission is expected to last anything between one and four months, with a number of tests being performed on the Dragon.