Astronomy, space. Falcon lifts off 9. NASA astronauts fly to the ISS

Four NASA astronauts on the Crew-4 mission are in orbit following Wednesday’s launch of the Crew Dragon from station SLC-39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the International Space Station. This is the second manned flight to the ISS made by SpaceX in April. Two days earlier, the Axiom-1 tourist mission returned to Earth.

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The Falcon 9 rocket was successfully launched. At the top was the Crew Dragon ship “Freedom” with a crew inside. This is SpaceX’s fourth manned rotating mission under a commercial agreement with NASA. The contract concerns the establishment of a permanent crew rotation on the ISS.

Mission Crew-4

The mission includes Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti. The crew will lead a scientific expedition in microgravity aboard the space station.

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This will be Lindgren’s second expedition to the International Space Station. He left for his first space mission in 2015 and lasted 141 days. He started working as an astronaut in 2009. Hines took off for the first time on a space mission on Wednesday. He was chosen as a NASA astronaut in 2017. Previously, he worked for 22 years as a test pilot, fighter pilot and instructor in the US Air Force.

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Cristoforetti, originally from Milan, has embarked on his second space journey. In 2015, she spent 5 months on the ISS. Previously, she was a fighter pilot in the Italian Air Force. In 2009, ESA accepted her as an astronaut. For Watkins, this is the first spaceflight. As a member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory research team, she studied the surface of Mars using the Curiosity rover. She was chosen as an astronaut in 2017.

Research on the ISS

The current crew will conduct research in microgravity conditions aboard the International Space Station for several months. According to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, their research should help the US agency “prepare for longer stays on the Moon – and possibly Mars”. “These missions would not be possible without the dedicated NASA and SpaceX teams here on Earth,” Nelson added. During the spacecraft’s flight, SpaceX will monitor a series of automated Dragon maneuvers from its mission control center in Hawthorne, California. NASA teams will monitor space station operations.



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