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The Crew Dragon just before docking on Sunday. Photo: NASA TV

SpaceX's Crew Dragon safely delivered two NASA astronauts — Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — to the International Space Station on Sunday after the company's historic launch Saturday.

Why it matters: This marks the first time a private company has delivered people to the space station, and it signals the beginning of the end of NASA's reliance on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft for flights to orbit.

Details: Behnken and Hurley docked to the station at 10:16am ET after spending about 19 hours flying through space to catch up to the orbiting outpost.

  • During that flight, the two astronauts ate meals, slept for about eight hours and performed a number of systems checkouts ahead of docking.
  • Behnken and Hurley join NASA's Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner aboard the ISS.
  • This mission marks SpaceX's final test flight of its crewed system before it's certified for fully operational missions to the station.

The big picture: NASA hopes to continue working with private companies in the future in order to become a buyer of services in low-Earth orbit, opening up the agency to work on getting humans to the Moon and beyond.

What's next: The Crew Dragon and its astronauts will stay docked to the space station for at least the next month and could remain in orbit longer, depending on how the capsule performs in orbit.

  • NASA expects the first operational mission will occur in August or September, flying three NASA astronauts and a Japanese astronaut to orbit.
  • Boeing is also partnering with NASA to bring astronauts to the space station.
  • A troubled uncrewed test flight of Boeing's Starliner system is forcing the longtime NASA contractor to redo that test later this year before launching its first crewed mission, which is expected next year.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 1, 2020 - Science

Rocket scientist Tory Bruno's vision of the future

Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: NASA

United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno believes humanity's push to explore the solar system could one day reduce poverty on Earth.

Why it matters: ULA is the workhorse of the space industry, with a high rate of success for the rockets it flies and big government and commercial contracts. It is well-positioned to one day act as the ride for companies and nations hoping to push farther into deep space.

Updated 35 mins ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by the Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

NYT: Biden won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

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