NASA ESA Crew-3 Astronauts Dock at Space Station with SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance (Image Credit: SNN)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – One day after a cloud obscured but nevertheless stunning nighttime blastoff from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) the four multinational German and American astronauts on the NASA, ESA Crew-3 mission safely and successfully docked to the International Space Station (ISS) Thursday evening, Nov. 11 gliding aboard SpaceX’s commercial Crew Dragon Endeavour spaceship – kicking off a half year science mission at the orbiting research outpost as members of the newly enlarged Expedition 66.
Clearly eager to begin their weather delayed stay in space the NASA ESA SpaceX Crew-3 astronaut quartet docked to the ISS at 6:32 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 11, over 30 minutes ahead of schedule – and less than 24 hours after launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer from Germany opened the hatch of their Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance at 8:25 p.m..
They floated through the opening one by one led by NASA mission specialist Kayla Barron, to exuberant bear hugs, high fives and thumbs up with the trio of Russian and American crew members already ion board and then participated in a welcome ceremony with their new Expedition 66 crewmates at 9 p.m.
👨🚀 The #Crew3 astronauts have arrived!
Just now, @Astro_Raja, @AstroMarshburn, Kayla Barron, and @astro_matthias entered the @Space_Station. Celebrate with us by tuning in LIVE to @NASA TV: https://t.co/6vyS6cjr4n pic.twitter.com/TgpnDMsUXN
— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) November 12, 2021
Crew-3 were welcomed by fellow NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos – who all previously arrived on Russian Soyuz capsules.
NASA and ESA officials also participated in the welcome ceremony from Earth – namely Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations, NASA and Josef Aschbacher, ESA director-general.
Crew Dragon Endurance docked autonomously to the orbital complex at the forward port of the station’s Harmony module while the spacecrafts were flying 260 miles (400 km) above the eastern Caribbean Sea on Thursday, Nov. 11.
— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) November 11, 2021
The entire rendezvous, docking, hatch opening and welcome ceremony were broadcast live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website – providing ongoing live coverage to welcome the new crew aboard the orbital outpost.
The Crew-3 astronauts are the third crew to fly a full-duration six-month long science mission to the orbiting laboratory on a SpaceX Crew Dragon, the fourth to the station and the 5th human spaceflight overall on a SpaceX Crew Dragon over the past 18 months.
After multiple postponements for poor weather and a ‘minor medical issue’ affecting one of the four multinational crew members, the NASA, ESA SpaceX Crew-3 mission streaked to orbit during a spectacular nighttime launch of US and German astronauts beginning a half year science mission to the International Space Station (ISS) Wednesday evening, Nov. 10 – but only after threatening rain storms that drenched the Kennedy Space Center barely an hour before liftoff added even more unneeded last minute drama and thankfully moved off shore in time.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 darted in and out of thick clouds before disappearing quickly behind them on the roadway to the ISS delighting spectators ringing the Space Coast with a stunning and thrilling sky show.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission lifted off at launch 9:03 p.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 10 (0203 GMT on Nov. 11), on a 22-story tall SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket integrated with the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance commercial crew astronaut ferry ship to the orbiting ISS microgravity research laboratory from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon Endurance soared off pad 39A on a northeasterly trajectory along the US East Coast inclined 51 degrees to the equator flying flawlessly bound for rendezvous and docking with the ISS some 22 hours later on Veteran’s Day, Thursday evening, Nov. 11.