By Joe Skipper and Steve Gorman
Rendezvous of the Crew Dragon capsule with the station less than 16 hours after launch of the astronauts from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, also marked one of the fastest flights by Elon Musk’s SpaceX to the ISS from liftoff to docking, NASA webcast commentators said.
The fully automated docking took place at about 7:37 p.m. EDT (2337 GMT) while the Crew Dragon capsule dubbed Freedom and the space station were flying about 260 miles (420 km) above the central Pacific Ocean, according to NASA.
The Freedom crew consists of three American NASA astronauts – flight commander Kjell Lindgren, 49, mission pilot Bob Hines, 47, and mission specialist Jessica Watkins, 33 – as well as Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, 45, of the European Space Agency (ESA).
(Reporting by Joe Skipper in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler, Clarence Fernandez, John Stonestreet and Lincoln Feast.)