12 November 2021

SpaceX delivers four new crew members to International Space Station

12 November 2021

A SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts has arrived at the International Space Station, their new home until spring.

It took 21 hours for the flight from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre to the outpost.

One German and three American astronauts said it was an emotional moment when they first spotted the space station 20 miles distant.

The Expedition 66 crew poses for a photo after SpaceX Crew-3’s arrival (Nasa via AP) (AP)

Raja Chari, commander of the Dragon capsule, said it was “a pretty glorious sight”.

German astronaut Matthias Maurer described the station as “floating in space and shining like a diamond”, adding: “We’re all very thrilled, very excited.”

The Dragon’s entire flight was automated, with Mr Chari and pilot Tom Marshburn monitoring the capsule systems, ready to take control if necessary.

At one point, they reported what looked like a “gnarled knob” or possibly a small mechanical nut floating past their camera’s field of view, but SpaceX Mission Control said it posed no concern.

The four new arrivals will be staying at the space station until spring (Nasa via AP) (AP)

The docking occurred 263 miles above the eastern Caribbean.

The station’s welcoming committee consisted of three astronauts instead of the originally planned seven. This is because SpaceX returned four of the station residents on Monday, after the new arrivals’ launch was repeatedly delayed.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to see these smiling faces,” Nasa astronaut Mark Vande Hei said after embracing each of the newcomers.

“Every one of us, all seven of us, are friends, and we’re going to become even better friends as time goes on.”

The flight took 21 hours (Nasa via AP) (AP)

Mr Vande Hei and one of the two Russians on board are midway through a one-year mission that will not end until March.

While Mr Chari, Mr Marshburn, Mr Maurer and Nasa astronaut Kayla Barron were adapting to weightlessness – all but Mr Marshburn are space rookies – the previous crew was adjusting to life back on Earth.

“Gravity sucks, but getting used to it slowly,” Japanese astronaut Akihoki Hoshide tweeted.

The new crew will spend the next six months at the space station and, during that time, host two groups of visiting tourists.

Russia will launch the first group in December, and SpaceX the second in February.

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