NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken talked about their experience as SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule took off from Earth and docked with the International Space Station. They also discussed how the spacecraft performed during the mission.
Hurley and Behnken were the astronauts selected by NASA to participate in Crew Dragon's Demo-2 mission, which successfully launched on May 30 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It marked the first time that American astronauts were launched into space from U.S. soil since 2011.
Demo-2's Rough Take Off
The following day after the launch, the Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked with the ISS, allowing Hurley and Behnken to join the current Expedition 63 crew members of the station. After settling into the ISS, the astronauts held a press conference to talk about their trip.
According to Behnken, although the first stage of the takeoff process was smooth, the second stage of Crew Dragon's ascent via SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket was a bit rougher than NASA's previous Space Shuttle missions. He noted that he and Hurley were talking about the roughness of the ride as the rocket took off. "We were both commenting on it as we were going uphill," Behnken said.
Docking With The ISS
As for the docking procedure with the ISS, Hurley noted that it was smoother than the previous Space Shuttle missions. According to the astronaut, the Crew Dragon capsule docked with the ISS so smoothly that they didn't feel it happening.
"We didn't feel the docking – it's so smooth, and we docked," Hurley stated. "On Shuttle, we felt the docking."
Crew Dragon's Performance
As the first astronauts to fly aboard Crew Dragon for its maiden human test flight, Behnken and Hurley were very satisfied with the overall quality of the capsule. The astronauts said that it performed well during the mission.
Hurley also stated that SpaceX's new space toilet aboard the Crew Dragon worked well. "For us as the test pilots, we're there to evaluate how it does the mission. So far, it has done just absolutely spectacularly," Hurley said. "[The toilet] works very similar to the one we were used to in the Space Shuttle and it worked very well. We had no issues with it."