SpaceX launches another historic astronaut mission tomorrow

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

“This is when you need to rest and be ready to fly while still keeping an eye on the hardware and making sure you make 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 was the first to do so in 1983, no black woman has had the opportunity to live in space as long as the station and work. room. Since 2000, this has made possible more than 200 astronauts.

“I think this is definitely an important milestone for both of us [space] “I think it’s really just a tribute to the legacy of the black female astronauts who came before me and the exciting future that lies ahead,” Watkins said at a news conference last month.

She has a long history with NASA. She began 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 the Curiosity Mars rover. She was a trained geologist who studied the surface of the Red Planet.
Watkins’ colleagues refer to her as the nickname.what† †

Who else is on this mission?

The crew for this mission is among the first to include an equal number of women and 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 are definitely expecting some amazing women [ESA] colleagues at 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 being assigned to the NASA astronaut team in 2017.

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, left, as Jill Lindgren, second from left, European astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, second from right, and NASA astronaut Robert Haines, right, as they leave the NASA launch and landing facility.  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, supporting 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 trained together for several months and took some time to make extracurricular contacts. Watkins noted that they took a kayak trip in eastern Washington “just to spend the time getting to know each other and understanding how we all work…

“We get along very well,” added Lindgren. “It is 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.

While the SpaceX Crew Dragon was designed to be reusable and three capsules are already in use, the Crew-4 will fly aboard an all-new spacecraft.

The astronauts got the name for their capsule 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 give NASA the role of the customer – allowing private companies to design, build and test new spacecraft to serve NASA astronauts, while still giving the company ownership of the vehicle.

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Since SpaceX controls the vehicle, it can sell the seats to whomever it wants, hence the full special mission that the company just completed and a previous space tourism mission last September.

NASA considers the program a huge success, and the space agency uses the same methodology to contract many of the vehicles involved in the lunar exploration efforts.

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 is a five-day delivery window, during which Crew-3 astronauts help Crew-4 astronauts settle, before the Crew-3 fly home aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon cabin.

Next, Crew-4 astronauts will work on all of the space station’s science experiments and maintenance tasks on their to-do list.

According to NASA, “Experiments will include studies of immune system aging, biosimilars, and cardio-respiratory 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.”

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

CNN’s Megan Marbles contributed.

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