The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that launched from Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Sunday with four astronauts on board safely docked with the International Space Station (ISS) at around 11 pm ET on Monday (9:30 am IST, Tuesday).
The spacecraft glided toward the station, closing the gap before latching onto a port on the ISS's center module, reported CNN.
The spacecraft and the ISS were travelling at roughly the same speed, at more than 17,000 miles per hour, the speed necessary to keep objects orbiting the Earth.
NASA is expected to live stream a "welcome ceremony" at 1:40 am ET (12:10 pm IST) on Tuesday, when the crew, NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut with Japan's space agency, are able to exit their spacecraft for the first time since mid-afternoon Sunday, reported CNN The four astronauts will join NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russia's Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, who are already on board the ISS.
The safe docking marks the end of the first leg of a landmark mission for NASA and SpaceX, which have been working together for a decade to return human spaceflight capabilities to the United States and ensure the multibillion-dollar ISS stays fully staffed.
The private space launch giant SpaceX spacecraft carrying four astronauts soared into outer space on Sunday, reported CNN Taking to Twitter, Space X said, "Falcon 9 launches Crew Dragon on its first operational flight with astronauts on board, beginning regular crew flights to the @space_station from the U.S." It further reported that the trip would have been shorter had the Crew Dragon been able to launch on Saturday, as NASA first planned because the ISS would have lined up in such a way as to allow the spacecraft to reach the space station in about eight hours. However, the plan was foiled due to Hurricane Eta.