On Sunday, nineteen hours after the historic event – the launch of Falcon 9 carrying two astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon, the capsule completed a successful docking with the International Space Station. The process showcased one of the Crew Dragon’s biggest features – its automated docking system.
The capsule’s innovative design was created to autonomously approach the station and latch on to a standardised docking port meaning no human input is required. This significant ability was first showcased in 2019 when SpaceX sent a test version of the Crew Dragon to the ISS yet with no crew aboard.
The automated docking system is a valuable upgrade for the capsule as using the ISS’ robotic arm to get a hold of the approaching Dragon in order to catch up with the station used to require a reasonable amount of work from astronauts on board the ISS. However, in case the capsule needs to be controlled manually, such possibility exists.
The passengers of the Crew Dragon, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were warmly welcomed by fellow astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, all already living on board the station.