As part of the mission, the astronauts will spend their time conducting multiple science investigations in areas of materials science, health technologies and plant science to make way for further human exploration in space.
The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:52am EDT on Wednesday, 27 April onboard a Dragon spacecraft boosted onto a Falcon 9 rocket.
Dragon was carrying mission commander Kjell Lindgren, pilot Bob Hines, and mission specialist Jessica Watkins, all NASA astronauts, and mission specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency.
The crew arrived docked to the station’s Harmony module 7:37pm EDT, as it was flying 261 miles over the Pacific Ocean, NASA said in a statement.
According to Space.com, it marked the quickest spaceflight to the ISS, arriving in just under 16 hours.
“Lift-off! The past few days at Kennedy Space Center have been inspiring and busy with the return of the Axiom crew and now the successful launch of Crew-4 astronauts to the International Space Station,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
“Aboard station, Kjell, Bob, Jessica, and Samantha will carry out research investigations that will help NASA prepare for longer duration stays on the moon – and eventually Mars.”
After conducting standard leak checks and pressurisation between the spacecraft, the hatch opened at 9:15pm EDT, joining Expedition 67 crew of Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, all of NASA, Matthias Maurer of ESA, and cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveev of Roscosmos.
Until Crew-3 leaves – set for early May – the ISS will host 11 astronauts onboard.
Every time a crew launches in a new Dragon spacecraft, they are given the opportunity to name it. Crew-4 named theirs “Freedom”.
Crew-4 marks the third mission to fly an ESA astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti, who was selected by the agency in 2009, and is currently the only active female European astronaut.
In October last year, American toy manufacturer Mattel developed a Barbie look-a-like of Cristoforetti to inspire women to pursue a career in space.
“It gives me great pleasure to see the successful launch of Samantha Cristoforetti and her Crew-4 colleagues. Samantha will take over from Matthias Maurer and continue to represent Europe and support European experiments aboard the space station throughout her mission,” said ESA director general Josef Aschbacher.
Bella Richards is a journalist who has written for several local newspapers, her university newspaper and a tech magazine, and completed her Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) at the University of Technology Sydney in 2020. She joined Momentum Media in 2021, and has since written breaking news stories across Space Connect, Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.
You can email Bella on: [email protected]
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