Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have officially arrived at the International Space Station.
After a historic launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, the astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft synched up with the space station Sunday morning.
The spacecraft made a careful approach, easing its way toward its destination over the course of 19 hours. At 10:16 am ET on Sunday, the vehicle made a “soft capture” — meaning Crew Dragon made its first physical contact with its docking port at the International Space Station.
Crew Dragon will now make a “hard capture,” which involves using 12 latches to create an air-locked seal between Behnken and Hurley’s crew cabin and their entrance to the space station. The astronauts are expected to exit Crew Dragon around 12:30 pm ET. They’ll join fellow NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who are already on board the International Space Station.
Compared to the high drama of the launch on Saturday, the docking may seem like a slow burn.
At one point, the webcast host mentioned that Crew Dragon was moving a fraction of a meter per second toward its destination. That, however, is only relatively speaking: Both the spacecraft and the space station were still whipping through orbit at more than 17,000 miles per hour (about 27,000 kilometers per hour). But because they were traveling at similar speeds, cameras on board the station made it appear as if Crew Dragon was inching along.