The spacecraft glided toward the station, closing the gap before latching onto a port on the ISS’s center module. The event appeared to be a slow burn to those watching NASA’s livestream, but that’s because the spacecraft and the ISS were traveling at roughly the same speed — more than 17,000 miles per hour, the speed necessary to keep objects orbiting the Earth.
The safe docking marks the end of the first leg of a landmark mission for NASA and SpaceX, which have been working together for a decade to return human spaceflight capabilities to the United States and ensure the multibillion-dollar ISS stays fully staffed.
This also marks the first fully operational crewed mission for SpaceX, following up a test mission in May that carried NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, both test pilots, to the space station for a brief stay.
During a brief dispatch between mission control and the astronauts Monday afternoon, mission commander Hopkins asked ground control operators if they could see Glover smiling “because it hasn’t stopped since we’ve been up here.”
Earlier on Monday, Hopkins also gave Glover his diamond-studded, golden astronaut pin, which is awarded to all NASA astronauts who have traveled to space. Glover shared fist bumps with his crew mates and showed off the golden emblem, a star with three contrails surrounded by a halo, to viewers on NASA’s livestream.
The Crew-1 astronauts are expected to spend about six months on board the ISS, where they’ll work on a variety of science experiments and conduct space walks to continue updates and repairs on the space station’s exterior.
Before returning home, they’ll be joined by yet another group of astronauts on a mission dubbed Crew-2 that’s due to launch in the spring.