Commercial Crew Astronauts Join Expedition 63

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour have arrived at the International Space Station to join Expedition 63 Commander and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

The crew members first opened the hatch between the space station and Dragon Endeavour at 1:02 p.m. EDT, allowing Hurley and Behnken to enter their new home in space as members of Expedition 63. The five crew members will hold a welcome ceremony next, after which the continuous coverage of the mission that began prior to launch will conclude.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will hold a news conference at 3:15 p.m. EDT from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss the successful docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. Johnson Center Director Mark Geyer, International Space Station Program Deputy Manager Kenneth Todd, NASA Commercial Crew Program Deputy Manager Steve Stich, and NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren also will participate in the live media briefing broadcast on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

It is the second arrival and autonomous docking to the International Space Station for a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the first time any commercially built spacecraft has delivered astronauts to the orbiting laboratory.

Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations and pave the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, enabling the expansion of the inhabitants of the space station, increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, and returning more science back to Earth.