The International Space Station’s population swelled to 11 on Saturday with the jubilant arrival of SpaceX’s third crew capsule in less than a year. It’s the biggest crowd up there in more than a decade. All of the astronauts — representing the U.S., Russia, Japan and France — managed to squeeze into camera view for a congratulatory call from the leaders of their space agencies.
“In this tough situation around the world, I believe you have brought courage and hope for all of us,” Japanese Space Agency President Hiroshi Yamakawa said from his country’s flight control center, referring to the global pandemic.
A recycled SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts arrived at the space station a day after launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The Dragon capsule docked autonomously with the orbiting outpost more than 260 miles (420 kilometers) above the Indian Ocean. The hatches swung open a couple hours later, uniting all 11 space travelers.