Sunday 31 May 2020 7:29 pm

SpaceX astronauts arrive at ISS in historic moment for private spaceflight

The first US space mission since 2011 has reached its destination, the International Space Station, NASA has confirmed.

Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken entered the ISS at around 6pm UK time, having docked at the ISS a few hours earlier.

In doing so, they have become the first astronauts to reach the station via a private company – Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The arrival of the Crew Dragon capsule, which came about 19 hours after yesterday’s launch from the Kennedy space centre at Cape Canaveral, is a landmark moment for the future of human space travel.

Hurley and Behnken were met by the current crew of the ISS, including ISS commander and fellow Nasa astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

Hurley said: “It’s been a real honour to be just a small part of this nine-year endeavour since the last time a United States spaceship has docked with the ISS”.

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In this new era of space travel, NASA will lease private transportation services from firms such as SpaceX.

In doing so, it hopes to conserve funds to put towards Project Artemis, a manned mission to the moon by 2024.

It is unclear how long Hurley and Behnken will stay on the ISS, but it could be several months.

They are tasked with testing all onboard systems and providing feedback for engineers.

SpaceX will now look to move to the next element of its $2.6bn contract with NASA, which is to run six “taxi” flights to the ISS.

The first of these may take place in August.