The autonomously flying spacecraft, with four crew members, docked Friday morning.
A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule has arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS), carrying two American astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and a United Arab Emirates astronaut to begin a six-month science mission.
The autonomously flying spacecraft called Endeavor docked with the space station shortly after 06:40 GMT on Friday, nearly 25 hours after liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The link was confirmed when the ISS and capsule flew in tandem at 28,164 km/h (17,500 miles per hour) about 240 km (250 miles) above Earth over the coast of East Africa, according to a live NASA webcast of the encounter.
The four-member team was tasked with conducting more than 200 experiments and technology demonstrations aboard the space station, ranging from research on human cell growth in space to the control of combustible materials in microgravity.
Some of the research will help pave the way for future long-duration human expeditions to the Moon and beyond under NASA’s Artemis program, its successor to Apollo, the US space agency said.
The ISS crew is also responsible for performing maintenance and repairs on board the station, and for preparing for the arrival and departure of other astronauts and payloads.
Designated Crew 6, the mission marks the sixth long-duration ISS crew that SpaceX has flown for NASA since the private rocket venture founded by billionaire Elon Musk began sending American astronauts into orbit in May 2020. Musk is CEO of electric car maker Tesla and social media platform Twitter .
The latest crew was led by Stephen Bowen, 59, a former US Navy submarine officer who has logged more than 40 days in orbit as a veteran of three space shuttle flights and seven spacewalks.
Fellow NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 37, an electrical engineer, computer science expert and designated commercial pilot, made his first spacewalk.
The Crew 6 mission was also notable for its inclusion of UAE astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi, 41, the second person from his country to fly into space and the first to launch from US soil as part of a long-duration space station team.
Rounding out the four-man Crew 6 was Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev (42), who, like al-Neyadi, is an engineer and aerospace rookie designated as a mission specialist for the team.
Fedyaev is the second cosmonaut to fly aboard a US spacecraft under a renewed sharing agreement signed in July by NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, despite heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Upon arrival, the crew prepared to conduct a series of standard leak checks and pressurize the passage between the capsule and the ISS before they could open the hatch to the interior of the space station.
The Crew 6 team will be welcomed aboard the space station by seven current ISS residents – three NASA crew members, including Commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Native American woman to fly in space, along with three Russians and a Japanese astronaut.
The seven are expected to end their mission and leave the space station this month. Four will return in the SpaceX Dragon they rode into orbit in October, and three others will ride home in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that was flown empty to the ISS last week to replace one that created a coolant leak while docked to the station in December .