Spacewalking astronauts installed a new front door for visitors at the International Space Station on Friday, the crucial first step in welcoming commercial crew capsules as soon as next year.
The two Americans, Jeffrey Williams and Kate Rubins, hooked up the docking port in just a few hours. SpaceX delivered this new gateway last month, packed in the trunk of a Dragon cargo capsule.
Americans haven't rocketed into orbit from their home turf since NASA's last shuttle flight in 2011. SpaceX and Boeing expect to resume human launches from Cape Canaveral in another year or two. But their crew capsules can't dock without this new-style parking spot, which replaces the now obsolete shuttle setup and is meant to be internationally compatible.
Friday's success paved the way for these future spaceships.
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