SpaceX delivers a new crew of 4 to the station, “glorious sight”

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A SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts stopped at the International Space Station, their new home until spring

It took 21 hours to fly from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the glittering outpost.

The sole German and three US astronauts said it was an emotional moment when they first spotted the space station 20 miles (30 kilometers) away – “quite a glorious sight,” according to Raja Chari, commander of the capsule. Dragon.

“Float in space and shine like a diamond,” noted German astronaut Matthias Maurer. “We are all very excited, very excited.”

The Dragon’s entire flight was automated, with Chari and pilot Tom Marshburn controlling the capsule systems, ready to take over if necessary. At one point, they reported what looked like a “gnarled knob” or perhaps a small mechanical nut floating beyond the field of view of their camera, but SpaceX Mission Control said it wasn’t a problem. The docking took place 263 miles (423 kilometers) above the eastern Caribbean.

The station’s welcoming committee consisted of three astronauts instead of the seven originally planned. That’s because SpaceX returned four of the station’s residents on Monday, after the launch of the newcomers continued to experience delays.

While Chari, Marshburn, Maurer and NASA astronaut Kayla Barron were adapting to zero gravity – all but Marshburn are newcomers to space – the previous crew were adapting to life on Earth. “Gravity sucks, but you slowly get used to it,” tweeted Japanese astronaut Akihoki Hoshide.

The new crew will spend the next six months at the space station and will host two groups of visiting tourists during that time. Russia will launch the first group in December and SpaceX the second in February.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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