The Crew Dragon spacecraft with Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on board has successfully docked to the International Space Station (ISS), as follows from a NASA broadcast on Sunday.
The spacecraft began approaching the ISS about two hours before docking than was carried out 10:16 ahead of the schedule. The Crew Dragon spacecraft was launched using the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 22.22 pm Moscow time on May 30 from the Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Crew Dragon is a configuration of the cargo spacecraft Dragon, which had already delivered cargoes to the ISS. A Falcon-9 rocket put the cargo vehicle in space on March 2. Its docking with the ISS was carried out automatically the next day.
NASA stopped crewed flights in 2011 after the Space Shuttle program came to an end. From that moment on all astronauts were delivered to the ISS and back by Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. Originally the Untied States was to start using commercial spacecraft for crewed missions in 2017.
The only minus for Russia in connection with the launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is that the country will not receive money from NASA for delivery of US astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), Academician of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics named after Tsiolkovsky Igor Marinin told TASS.
“A small downside is that we will use certain money paid by us to the US for the delivery of their astronauts to ICC using Soyuz-MC spacecraft and cargo on Progress spacecraft. However, these amounts of money are fundamentally not planned because the US was to start flying to ISS on their spacecraft and abandon Soyuz spacecraft as early as four years ago. That is why the whole our space program is funded by the government, with taking these extra money into consideration,” the expert said.
Availability of the manned spacecraft with the US has certain upsides for Russia, Marinin said. “We can now increase our crew at ICS. The launch of the multifunctional laboratory module Nauka [Science – TASS] to ISS is planned in 2021 and we will able to increase our crew in the station to three individuals,” the expert said. Russia will be also able to hold talks with our countries on flights of tourists and professional astronauts to ICS, he added.