Black woman Jessica Watkins makes history aboard space station

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Four astronauts, including the first black woman to join the International Space Station crew, docked their SpaceX capsule at the ISS Wednesday less than 16 hours after blast off from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral.

Three of the crew were from Nasa, while the other is from the European Space Agency. Their fully autonomous capsule circled the Earth more than 10 times before docking at 23:37 GMT.

Nasa webcast commentators said the Crew Dragon flight, which docked ahead of schedule, was one of the fastest ever to reach the ISS.

The mission has enabled Nasa astronaut Jessica Watkins to become the first black woman to live and work in space for an extended period.

More than a dozen black Americans, including four black women, have traveled to space - but no women has before been among the 200-odd astronauts serve on board the ISS.

"This is certainly an important milestone I think both for our [space] agency and for the country," Watkins said during a press conference last month.

"I think it really is just a tribute to the legacy of the black women astronauts that have come before me as well as to the exciting future ahead."

The crew will work on science experiments and general space station maintenance.

Nasa said the experiments would include studies on "the ageing of immune systems, organic material concrete alternatives, and cardiorespiratory effects during and after long-duration exposure to microgravity".

The crew will return to Earth on their Crew Dragon capsule in September.

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