A team of four astronauts arrived aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Endeavor on the International Space Station on Saturday, NASA said.
They were the first crew to be put into orbit by a rocket booster recycled from a previous space flight.
The Endeavor capsule, which also made its second flight, was launched on Friday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX is Elon Musk’s commercial rocket company.
The Endeavor docked at the space station complex at 5:08 a.m. while the spacecraft flew 425 km over the Indian Ocean. NASA said in an update on the mission.
On board were two NASA astronauts – Mission Commander Shane Kimbrough (53) and pilot Megan McArthur (49) – as well as the Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide (52) and his mission specialist Thomas Pesquet (43), a French engineer from the European Space Agency.
The mission is the second “operational” space station team launched by NASA aboard a Crew Dragon capsule since human spaceflight resumed last year after a nine-year hiatus at the end of the US space shuttle program in 2011 were recorded on American soil.
It is also the third crewed flight to be launched into orbit in 11 months as part of NASA’s fledgling public-private partnership with SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Musk in 2002 and also CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc. .
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The mission’s Falcon 9 missile was fired from the same first stage booster that launched a crew into orbit five months ago. This was the first time a previously flown booster was ever reused on a crewed launch.
Reusable booster vehicles, designed to fly back to Earth and land safely instead of falling into the sea after takeoff, form the core of a reusable rocket strategy that SpaceX pioneered to make space travel more economical shape.