SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor successfully docked to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday. Four astronauts from NASA, ESA, and JAXA (Crew-2 mission) arrived at the ISS after the successful opening of the docking port.
The Crew-2 mission was welcomed aboard by the existing 7 astronauts on the ISS, “Welcome to ISS, we are so excited to have you aboard,” NASA astronaut and ISS commander Shanon Walker said.
With this most recent launch, there are now two Crew Dragon spacecraft hard docked to the International Space Station. Crew Dragon Resilience took the Crew-1 mission to the ISS and docked on Nov 17, 2020. The Crew Dragon Endeavor has docked to the ISS on May 24, 2021.
Now there is a temporary crew of 11 astronauts aboard the ISS until the Crew-1 members return to Earth after 6 months. SpaceX posted the following short video that introduced the astronauts flying aboard the Dragon spaceship.
Of course, a rocket lift-off is a great moment to look at, especially if it’s the Falcon 9 or the Starship. Falcon 9’s first stage booster landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship – this was SpaceX’s 80th landing of an orbital class rocket booster.
Docking Dragon to the ISS
As the Dragon spacecraft approached the ISS, SpaceX and NASA teams worked in tandem to test several systems on both the Crew Dragon and the ISS.
One such system is the bi-directional communications with the station using the C2V2 system which stands for Common Communications for Visiting Vehicles. C2V2 sets up a data stream from Dragon to the space station giving another path for Dragon to let it come to the ISS and giving additional command capability to the astronauts aboard the ISS.
They also maneuver Dragon to the proper attitude and initialize the navigation sensors used for a methodical approach to the International Space Station.
The nose cone of the Dragon is opened to reveal the 4 Draco thrusters located on the forward bulkhead of the spacecraft. There are a total of 16 Draco engines, 12 of which are located at the base of the Dragon (see illustration below).
Opening the bulkhead nose cone also exposes the docking mechanism. It consists of 12 latches that allow the hard docking of Dragon to the International Space Station. Opening the Crew Dragon nose cone also exposes the navigation controls or GNC that enable it to autonomously fly to the ISS.
- Red – Draco forward thrusters
- Blue – electrical and data connections to ISS
- Yellow – star trackers for attitude control
- Green – LIDAR sensors / GNC
- Purple – docking camera
Let’s watch the live-stream recording of this historic mission published by NASA and SpaceX. I like the SpaceX input from time to time during the stream as it attempts to educate the viewer about the mission, space, and the company’s rockets and spacecraft.