NASA's agreement with the Russian space program Roscomos is rapidly coming to an end, and without a new agreement in place or crew-capable spacecrafts of its own, NASA astronauts would have no presence aboard the orbiting laboratory.
The docking of the capsule, which has only a dummy on board, was concluded at 1051 GMT, almost 250 miles (400 kilometers) over the surface of the Earth, NASA and SpaceX confirmed during a live broadcast of the mission.
It's a fitting milestone given that Crew Dragon is one of two private spacecraft, along with Boeing's Starliner, that NASA has chosen to begin ferrying astronauts to space as part of its Commercial Crew program.
"It's important that we become a spacefaring civilisation and get out there among the stars", Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder, chief executive and lead designer, said.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain welcomes SpaceX's first Crew Dragon to the International Space Station in a video message recorded inside the spacecraft on March 3, 2019. That schedule may slip, however, depending on how much more the Dragon needs to be tweaked after the uncrewed test flight.
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The Falcon9 rocket carrying the Dragon capsule blasted off from Cape Canaveral yesterday morning and completed its journey to the ISS about 11am United Kingdom time today.
SpaceX's new Crew Dragon capsule has arrived at the International Space Station, acing its second milestone in just over a day.
Astronauts aboard the ISS watched closely on HD cameras to make sure the capsule performed as planned. While cargo Dragon spacecraft have been pulled in for their berthing with the station's robotic arm, the Crew Dragon is built to guide itself autonomously to its hookup. The IDA was launched aboard Dragon 1 on the SpaceX CRS-9 mission.
Sending this command to the spacecraft will move Dragon back to 180 meters. The US government is also eager to have the ability to fly to the ISS without buying seats on Russian Soyuz capsules.
Its Falcon 9 rockets have re-supplied the space station 15 times in seven years, even though one of them blew up in 2015. But it won't happen before 2023 at the earliest - with the rocket, far more powerful than that used for the Dragon mission, still in development.
As a result, NASA and SpaceX modified the mission design to constrain the thermal environment and ensure the thrusters would be ready for flight. Docking occurred at 05:51 EST (10:51 UTC), and the crew officially opened Dragon's interior hatch at 08:07 EST (13:07 UTC). "We have to dock to the station". Dragon will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast at approximately 8:45 a.m.