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SpaceX set to launch another crew dragon capsule carrying 4 astronauts to ISS for NASA

Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX will launch its next long – range astronaut crew to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA on Wednesday morning, including a doctor who became a spacewalker and a geologist specializing in Martin landslides.

The SpaceX launch vehicle, a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with a crew dragon capsule called Freedom, with its four crew members set off from NASA at 3:52 am EDT (0752 GMT, or 1.22pm IST) for a lift off. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

If all goes according to plan, the three US astronauts and their European Space Agency (ESA) crew from Italy will arrive at the space station about 17 hours later to launch a six-month science mission into orbit about 250 miles (420 km) above Earth.

During a pre-launch briefing on Tuesday, NASA officials said estimates put the 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for a timely lift-off.

“Traveling safely with crew means you have to take one step at a time,” NASA Administrator for Space Operations Katherine Louders told reporters. “We hope you can see the really beautiful step and we will bring our crew safely into orbit.”

The private rocket venture founded by Musk, owner of electric car maker Tesla, has been the fourth full-fledged ISS crew to be launched into orbit on the NASA SpaceX, the latest mission commissioned by Crew 4 since the US space agency began flying astronauts in 2020. In all, SpaceX has launched six previous human spacecraft in the last two years.

Appointed Crew 4 Commander, Dr. Kiegel Lindgren, 49, is on board the Certified Emergency Medicine Physician and One-Time Flight Surgeon for his second visit to the ISS, where he logged into orbit in 2015 for 141 days.

During that voyage, he made two spacewalks and participated in more than 100 science projects, including the “Veggie” lettuce experiment, in which US personnel ate the crop grown in orbit for the first time.

The pilot assigned to the mission was Rookie astronaut Bob Hines, 47, a US Air Force fighter pilot, test pilot and aviation instructor who collected more than 3,500 hours of flight time on 50 types of aircraft and operated 76 combat missions.

Jessica Watkins, 33, another crew member who is in space as a mission specialist, received her doctorate for studying the processes behind the breaking of large landslides on Mars and Earth and joined the science team for Mars Rover Curiosity at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. .

Crew 4 Flight makes Watkins the first African American woman to join a long-term mission to the International Space Station. She has been following in the footsteps of just seven black astronauts since the ISS launched two decades ago.

Samantha Cristoforetti, 45, an ESA astronaut and Italian Air Force jet pilot who completed crew 4, arrived at the space station on her second flight and decided to lead the team’s ISS operations within six months, becoming the first woman in Europe. Character.

Christopheretti and Watkins previously worked together as aquanatas in the Aquarius underwater habitat on the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission in 2019.

The Crew 4 team will be welcomed by seven existing ISS invaders, four Crew 3 members they will replace – three American astronauts and one German ESA crew who will complete their mission in early May – and three Russian astronauts.

The launch comes just two days after a special four-man team led by Houston-based company Axiom Space returned from a two-week mission as the first all-private astronaut crew of the ISS, splashed into a different SpaceX capsule on Monday.

It also follows the recent fleet of astro-tourism aircraft. Last July, two commercial space operators, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic Holding Inc., along with their respective billionaire founders Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, launched back-to-back subarbital aircraft.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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