1 of 3 | Members of SpaceX Crew-5 arrive at the International Space Station. Photo courtesy of NASA
Oct. 6 (UPI) -- SpaceX's Crew-5 mission docked with the International Space Station on Thursday, marking what NASA administrator Bill Nelson called "proof we are living through a golden era of commercial space exploration."
"It's a new era powered by the spirit of partnership, fueled by scientific ingenuity, and inspired by the quest for new discoveries," Nelson said in a statement.
The crew, led by mission commander Nicole Mann, completed docking with the space station's Harmony module at 5:15 p.m. EDT and opened the hatches around 6:49 p.m.
"All smiles on the International Space Station as they eagerly await the ingress of Crew-5," a NASA announcer said just before the crew entered the ISS.
The crew will spend several months onboard the space station. Mann has become the first Indigenous woman in space.
The crew also includes fellow NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, the pilot, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, the first Russian to fly in a SpaceX mission.
The mission marks the first spaceflight for Mann, Cassada and Kikina and the fifth for Wakata.
The crew will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations onboard the ISS, including studies on printing organs in space.
Crew-5 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday and were propelled to the ISS by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon Endurance spacecraft.
SpaceX said in a statement that the Dragon capsule "performed a series of burns" on its way to the space station. The launch was postponed last week due to Hurricane Ian.
The Dragon capsule approached Waypoint 1, about 720 feet from the space station marking the edge of the "keep out sphere" before docking.
Before docking, the capsule must hit two waypoints for safety checks before it is allowed to dock for the safety of the crew inside the capsule and on the space station. The second waypoint is about 65 feet from the space station.
NASA announced as Dragon reached Waypoint 2 that the capsule would dock about 10 minutes after it was expected.
"It's pretty cool to see two Dragon capsules in the same shot," NASA announcers during the livestream, noting that SpaceX capsule that took Crew-4 to the ISS remains docked.
Soft capture and contact was made at 5:01 p.m. EDT with the hard capture sequence and docking complete minutes later.
"Crew-5 is happy to have finally arrived at the International Space Station. Endurance is a very proper name for our training mission," Mann said.
She added: "We look forward to getting to work."
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launchpad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 5, 2022. NASA's Crew-5 mission is on its way to the International Space Station. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo