The international crew of astronauts just sent to the space station is the fourth commercial crew rotation mission. Using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, spaceX sent a Dragon spacecraft into space with 3 astronauts (Mission commander Kjell Lindgren, pilot Bob Hines, mission specialist Jessica Watkins and a NASA crew of ESA experts (Samantha Cristoforetti). The crew will take part in microgravity science experiments on the International Space Station.
SpaceX launched a group of astronauts for NASA early Wednesday morning (4/27)
It was launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:52 am (EDT).
The past few days at the Kennedy Space Center have been exciting and busy with the return of the Axiom crew and launched four astronauts to the International Space Station with great success. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated the following. “Kjell, Bob, Jessica, and Samantha will undertake research surveys on board the station to assist NASA to prepare for a prolonged stay on the Moon, and eventually Mars. These missions would not be possible without dedicated NASA and SpaceX teams here on Earth. Godspeed, Crew-4!”
This Crew 4 mission is the first launch for Hines and Watkins, and the second flight to the station for Lindgren and Christoforetti. It was launched with a new Dragon spacecraft, which was named freedom by the crew, and the Falcon 9 rocket flew its fourth mission into space. This is the 5th SpaceX flight with NASA astronauts as part of the agency’s commercial crew program, which includes a test flight to the space station in 2020 for Demo 2.
During Dragon’s flight, SpaceX will monitor a series of automated spacecraft maneuvers from the Mission Control Center in Hawthorne, California, and the NASA team will monitor the operations of the space station in flight from the mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
SpaceX’s module landed
The Dragon docked autonomously in the space-facing port of the station’s harmony module at around 8: 15pm, 27th April. NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website were providing ongoing live coverage through docking, and hatch openings. So, NASA was holding a ceremony to welcome the crew aboard the Orbital Outpost at around 2:40 AM, 28th April .
“SpaceX, NASA, and our foreign partners have worked tirelessly to ensure that the International Space Station continues its critical microgravity research, and is committed to many projects that promote humanity and open up full rights to more human beings in space,” said a partner at NASA’s general Directorate of Space Operations Missions in Washington. “It’s a great way to get the most out of it,” says Kathryn Lueders, an administrator.
“The launch of Crew-4 demonstrates the spirit and success of the Commercial Crew program to maximize the use of low-earth orbit for the next few years, testing the technology required for the Artemis program and beyond, within two days of the first all-civilian mission returning to the station.”
The Crew Dragon: capsule Freedom is already on its way to the International Space Station, transporting NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins, and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti
Lindgren, Hines, Watkins, and Cristoforetti will be part of the 67th extended stay of raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron, as well as all NASA astronauts, Matthias Maurer from ESA, and Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveev. For a while, the number of crew aboard the space station will increase to 11, until a few days later, the crew-3 astronauts; Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer , will return to Earth.
Crew-4 is the third commercial crew mission to fly ESA astronauts
It brings me tremendous joy to see Samantha Cristoforetti and her four coworkers’ excellent launch. Samantha will take over from Matthias Maurer and will continue to represent Europe and support European experiments aboard the Space Station throughout her mission,” said Josef Ashbacher, ESA Director General.
Samantha has been an excellent role model – even more so, she will be on the space station taking on the role of USOS Lead responsible for operations within the US orbital segment of the International Space Station, consisting of modules and components from America, Europe, Japan, and Canada.”
The crew of 4 astronauts will spend months on the space station conducting new scientific research in fields such as materials science, health technology, and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond low earth orbit and benefit life on Earth.
Elon Musk’s company has now sent 26 people into orbit in less than two years
The Crew 4 mission continues NASA’s efforts to maintain American leadership in human space flight. Regular long-term commercial crew rotation missions will allow NASA to continue the important research and technical investigations being carried out on the station. Such research will benefit people on Earth and lay the foundation for future exploration of the Moon and Mars, starting with the agency’s Artemis mission, including landing the first women and people of color on the surface of the Moon.
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren
Lindgren is the commander of the Dragon Spaceship and Crew-4 mission. He will be responsible for all phases of the flight from launch to re-entry and will act as a flight engineer on Expeditition67. Lindgren will fly for the second time after being a cosmonaut in 2009. In 2015, he boarded the orbital laboratory for 44 days as a flight engineer on expeditions 45 and 141. Having received emergency medical certification, he previously worked at NASA Johnson as a flight surgeon to assist in the training and operation of the Space Station and served as a surgeon on the STS-130 Space Shuttle and as a deputy crew member on the 24th long-term mission. Lindgren was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and spent most of his childhood in the United Kingdom before graduating from the United States Air Force Academy.
NASA astronaut Bob Hines
Hines is the mission’s second in command and the pilot of the Dragon spacecraft. He is in charge of the spacecraft’s performance and systems. He will work as an expedition 67 flight engineer aboard the station. Given his nomination as an astronaut in 2017, this might be his first space tour. Hines served in the US Air Force for more than 22 years as a test pilot, fighter pilot, and trainer pilot. Prior to his nomination in 2017, he worked at Johnson as a research pilot.
NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins
The NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins will support the Crew-4 commander and pilot in monitoring the spacecraft during the intense push and pull phases of flight.
Prior to launching aboard the ISS, she will be a flight engineer on Expedition 67. Watkins grew up in Lafayette, Colorado, and attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied geology. She has worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, studying the Martian surface as a geologist. She was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2017 and will make her first space tour.
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti
As a mission specialist, Samantha Cristoforetti will help monitor the Dragon as it makes dynamic landings and takeoffs. She will serve as a flight engineer for Expeditions 67, her second time in space following five months as an expedition engineer for Expeditions 42 and 43. She was a fighter pilot in the Italian Air for over a decade before being selected to ESA as a fighter pilot in the Italian Air Force prior to being selected as an ESA in 2009.
In addition to being an astronaut in 2009, she participated in NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations program in 2019, where she stayed at the world’s only underwater research station for 10 days.