SpaceX Crew-7 Dragon capsule docks at space station with international astronaut team (video)

SpaceX Crew-7 Dragon capsule docks at space station with international astronaut team (video)

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station Sunday (Aug. 27) to ferry a new astronaut crew to the orbiting lab to begin a half-year mission. 

The Crew Dragon capsule Endurance docked at the International Space Station (ISS) at 9:16 a.m. EDT (1313 GMT), where it parked itself at a space-facing port on the outpost’s U.S.-built Harmony module after flying a wide loop around the orbital outpost. Dragon and the station were soaring 261 miles above Australia at the time.

“Thank you so much,” Crew-7 commander Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA radioed to SpaceX mission control after the successful docking. “I have to keep reminding myself that this is not a dream.”

A space capsule with the blue edge of Earth behind

SpaceX’s Crew-7 Dragon capsule is seen with its nose cone open ahead of docking with the blue Earth below in this view from the International Space Station on Aug. 27, 2023. (Image credit: NASA TV)

The docking marked the end of a nearly 30-hour journey for the capsule’s four-person crew, which launched in the wee hours of Saturday from NASA’s Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But it is also the start of something bigger, a six-month mission for Moghbeli and her three crewmates. 

“This is the first step of the journey, the real mission begins now,” Crew-7 pilot Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency radioed SpaceX. “Aboard the International Space Station, we have a lot of work ahead of us that we look forward to.” 

The Crew-7 astronauts opened between their Dragon and the ISS at 10:58 a.m. EDT (1458 GMT) to join the seven astronauts already aboard the station. All 11 astronauts then gathered for a short welcome ceremony to begin their joint mission.

SpaceX’s Crew-7 mission for NASA sent Moghbeli to the ISS with a truly international crew: pilot Mogensen of ESA; and mission specialists Konstantin Borisov of Russia’s Roscosmos agency and Satoshi Furukawa of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The quartet is the first all-international crew, with members from four different agencies and countries, to fly on the same Dragon capsule.

The mission is the seventh operational commercial crew flight for NASA by SpaceX, and the company’s eighth for the U.S. space agency overall (including a crewed test flight). It is SpaceX’s 11th crewed mission when including three private astronaut flights in recent years. SpaceX is one of two private companies with multibillion-dollar contracts to fly astronauts to the ISS for NASA. (Boeing is the other, with its first crewed test flight delayed to early 2024.)

Eleven astronauts in different color uniforms gather on a space station, two float upside down.

Crew-7 commander Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA (with microphone) speaks during a welcome ceremony after her crew’s SpaceX Dragon docked on Aug. 27, 2023. The station is now home to 11 astronauts.  (Image credit: SpaceX)

The Crew-7 astronauts will spend six months on the space station and relieve the four astronauts of NASA’s Crew-6 mission, who are due to return to Earth on Sept. 2.

Crew-7 is the first spaceflight for Moghbeli, a U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel who became the second Iranian-American to fly in space on the flight. It is also Borisov’s first flight. 

Related: Meet the astronauts of Crew-7 flying with SpaceX

While Morgensen and Furukawa have both flown to the ISS before, Morgensen is the first European ever to pilot a SpaceX Dragon capsule. SpaceX’s Endurance capsule is also a space veteran, having flown the Crew-3 and Crew-5 astronaut missions to the station for NASA.

NASA and SpaceX included a special treat for Crew-7’s arrival at the ISS on Sunday. 

A space capsule with the blue edge of Earth behind bordered by black space

A camera on the International Space Station captured this stunning view of the SpaceX Crew-7 Dragon capsule Endurance with the blue limb of the Earth glowing in the background, bordered by the black of SpaceX. (Image credit: NASA TV)

“We’re gonna do a fly-around of the International Space Station and get some cool photos, and get that out to everybody to show what an awesome outpost we have,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s space station program manager, told reporters after the launch. 

That fly-aroundalso allowed cameras on the space station to capture spectacular views of the Dragon Endurance capsule with the blue Earth in the background.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:30 am on Aug. 27 to reflect the successful docking of SpaceX’s Crew-7 Dragon capsule with its four astronaut crew.

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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com’s Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.

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