The commercially developed SpaceX Crew Dragon ship carrying a group of four U.S. and Japanese astronauts successfully docked with the International Space Station on Nov. 16 following its liftoff from NASA’s space center a day earlier.
Three NASA astronauts — Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker — along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will begin a six-month mission aboard the orbiting laboratory.
“Oh, what a good voice to hear,” space station astronaut Kate Rubins called out when the Dragon’s commander, Hopkins, first made radio contact. The linkup occurred 422 kilometers above Idaho.
The second manned flight to the ISS by the Crew Dragon capsule, developed by the U.S. company Space Exploration Technologies Corp., followed a test flight earlier this year with two NASA astronauts.
Noguchi, 55, became the first non-American astronaut to be ferried by NASA’s first-ever certified commercial human spacecraft system. The veteran astronaut has experience from two previous space missions and is expected to carry out experiments involving iPS cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells, during his stay on the ISS through April, according to JAXA. (Kyodo, AP)