December 5, 2022

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SpaceX to launch another historic astronaut mission tomorrow

SpaceX to launch another historic astronaut mission tomorrow

This mission, called Crew-4, will mark a return to manned launches that SpaceX is conducting in partnership with NASA after the company concluded its first flight. A special mission to the space station For wealthy customers who pay on Mondays. Crew-4 is scheduled to take off in the early hours of Wednesday morning — at 3:52 a.m. ET, to be exact — before arriving at the International Space Station around 8 p.m. ET on the same day.

On board the Crew-4 will be NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren (who will lead the mission), Robert Haines, Jessica Watkins, and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who is flying on behalf of the European Space Agency.

Less than 40 hours between the completion of the entire SpaceX special mission, called AX-1The launch of the Crew-4 is unprecedented for the company. NASA human spaceflight leader Kathy Luders said during a press conference Tuesday that safety teams realized they needed to take things “step by step.”

“That’s when you have to rest and get ready to fly and still keep an eye on the hardware and make sure you’re making the right decision,” Lueders said.

Here’s everything you need to know about Crew-4.

What makes this trip historic?

Watkins would become the first black woman to complete such a mission.

Although more than a dozen black Americans — including four black women — have traveled to space since Guion Bluford became the first to do so in 1983, no black woman has had the opportunity to live and work in space for as long as the station. International Space. More than 200 astronauts have made it possible since 2000.

“This is definitely an important milestone, I think, for both of us [space] “I think it’s really just a tribute to the legacy of the black women astronauts who came before me as well as to the exciting future ahead,” Watkins said during a news conference last month.

She has a long history with NASA, having started her career there as an intern, and previously held positions at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where she worked with Rover Curiosity Mars. A trained geologist, she studied the surface of the Red Planet.
Watkins’ co-workers refer to her by the nickname “What. ”

Who else is on this mission?

The crew for this mission is among the first to include as many women as men. Cristoforetti, who previously traveled to the International Space Station in 2014, is also the only woman on the European Space Agency’s team of astronauts. But Cristoforetti told reporters last month that the situation “will be over very soon”.

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“We definitely expect to have some great females [ESA] co-workers by the end of the year.

Cristoforetti, an Italian Air Force veteran who got her fighter pilot wings, joined the European Space Agency in 2009.

Haynes is a 22-year-old US Air Force veteran who will travel to space for the first time since he was named to NASA’s astronaut team in 2017.

NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins, left, as Jill Lindgren, second from left, European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, second from right, and NASA astronaut Robert Haines, right, as they leave NASA's launch and landing facility.  s Kennedy Space Center.

Lindgren, who will lead this mission, is certified in emergency medicine and serves as a flight surgeon on the ground at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and supports other astronaut missions. Lindgren was born in Taiwan and spent most of his childhood in England before moving to the United States and attending the US Air Force Academy.

The four astronauts spent months training together and even took some time to do some extracurricular connections. Watkins noted that they went on a kayaking trip in eastern Washington “just to take the time to get to know each other and understand how we all work… and what makes each of us work, and I think that would be really crucial.”

“We get along really well,” Lindgren added. “It’s a pleasure to have these guys on this team.”

How do they get to space?

The crew will travel to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which will mark the seventh manned mission since then. Entering service in 2020.

Although SpaceX has designed the Crew Dragon to be reusable and three capsules are already in service, the Crew-4 will fly on an all-new spacecraft.

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Astronauts get their capsule name, and this group chose Crew Dragon “Freedom”.

The Crew Dragon was developed by SpaceX under a $2.6 billion contract with NASA as part of the Commercial Crew Program. The idea behind the program was to move NASA into a customer role – allowing private companies to design, build and test new spacecraft to serve NASA astronauts while still giving the company ownership of the vehicle.

Since SpaceX controls the vehicle, it has the ability to sell seats to whomever desires, hence the entire special mission that the company has just concluded and a previous space tourism mission last September.

NASA has deemed the program a huge success, and the space agency is adopting the same method of contracting many of the vehicles involved in its efforts to Moon exploration.

What will they do in space?

After arriving Wednesday evening, the crew will be greeted by the group of astronauts already aboard the International Space Station — including three NASA astronauts and one European Space Agency astronaut who were part of SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission — and three Russian cosmonauts.

There will be a five-day delivery period, during which Crew-3 astronauts will help Crew-4 astronauts settle down, before the Crew-3 fly home aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

Next, Crew-4 astronauts will work on all of the science experiments and space station maintenance duties on their task list.

According to NASA, “the experiments will include studies of the aging of immune systems, biomaterial substitutions, and cardiorespiratory effects during and after prolonged exposure to microgravity.” “These are just some of the more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations that will be conducted during their mission.”

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Crew-3 is scheduled to return from space in September, shortly after SpaceX launched its Crew-5 mission.

CNN’s Megan Marbles contributed.