SpaceX brings four astronauts to the International Space Station

SpaceX has successfully delivered four astronauts to the International Space Station on a mission that includes one of the most diverse crews sent into space.

key facts

  • The launch of the Crew-4 mission took place at 3:52 a.m. EST from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was a partially repurposed Falcon 9 two-stage rocket that carried the crew aboard SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, called Freedom.
  • Minutes after launch, the manned capsule successfully launched into orbit as the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster returned to Earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean aboard the SpaceX drone.
  • The astronauts will now spend approximately 17 hours en route to the International Space Station (ISS) and are expected to dock there around 8:15 p.m. EST.
  • The crew of four consists of two men – NASA’s Kjell N. Lindgren and Robert Hines – and two women – NASA’s Jessica Watkins and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA).
  • Thanks to this successful launch, Jessica Watkins made history by becoming the first black woman to participate in a long-term space mission.
  • Wednesday’s launch is SpaceX’s fourth under its contract with NASA for the Commercial Crew Program.

important quote

Minutes before launch, Mission Commander Kjell N. Lindgren said, “Our heartfelt thanks go to each and every one of you who made this possible. Now let Falcon roar and freedom ring.” After the capsule successfully entered orbit, Kjell N. Lindgren radioed, “It was a great adventure.”

the context

The new crew will be welcomed aboard by seven astronauts currently living on the ISS, including members of SpaceX’s Crew 3 mission – consisting of three American and one German astronauts – and three Russian cosmonauts. Early next month, members of the Crew 3 mission will return to Earth aboard their own Dragon capsule. The launch of Crew-4 comes just days after a private mission to the ISS conducted by the Axiom Space company using SpaceX rockets. Dubbed Axiom-1, the mission included former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría and three others, who each paid $55 million for the trip. The Axiom-1 crew agreed to conduct experiments aboard the station and helped Axiom develop protocols for future human launches into space.

Surprising fact

Previously, only two black women had visited the ISS during NASA’s space shuttle era, but neither had stayed there for a long mission. Jessica Watkins will make history by spending five months aboard the space station, a mission she calls a “milestone.” Geologist Jessica Watkins is on NASA’s candidate list for a future lunar landing mission.

Article translated by Forbes US – Author: Siladitya Ray

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