After sunrise at 3:52 a.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the astronauts spent 16 hours orbiting their Space X Crew Dragon spacecraft. The capsule, which is completely autonomous, orbits the Earth more than ten times, approaching the ISS at 7:37 pm ET before making soft, precise contact with one of the space station’s docking ports.
The spacecraft includes NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and Italian astronaut Samantha Christophoreti, who is flying on behalf of the European Space Agency.
Here’s everything you need to know about Staff 4.
What makes this flight historic?
Jessica Watkins is the first black woman to join the space station crew for a long stay.
Although more than a dozen black Americans – including four black women – have traveled into space since Guion Bluford became the first woman to do so in 1983, no black woman has been in space for long. Didn’t get a chance to live and work, as ISS has enabled more than 200 astronauts since 2000.
“It’s definitely an important milestone for both of me. [space] For the agency and the country, “Watkins said at a news conference last month. . “
Who else is on this mission?
The staff of this mission is one of the first to include women as well as men.
Christopherty, who was on a previous ISS mission in 2014-2015, is the only woman on the ESA’s astronaut corps. But Christopherty told reporters last month that the situation was “soon to end.”
“We definitely expect some great women. [ESA] Colleagues by the end of the year, “he added.
Christopherty, a veteran of the Italian Air Force who has acquired his fighter pilot wings, joined the ESA in 2009.
Haynes is a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, marking the first spaceflight since being selected for NASA’s astronaut corps in 2017.
Lindgren, the mission’s commander, is certified in Emergency Medicine, and before being selected to go to the skies himself, he worked as a flight surgeon on the ground at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, which assists other astronaut missions. used to. Lindgreen 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.
This group of four astronauts has been training for several months together, and they also took some time in some extracurricular relationships. Watkins noted that he went on a kayaking trip to East Washington “just to get to know each other and understand how we all work … and what each of us is stuck with.” And I think that’s going to be very important. “
Lindgren added: “We are very good together.
How did they get into space?
Although SpaceX has designed the Crew Dragon to be reusable and three capsules are already in service, Crew-4 is embarking on a brand new spacecraft, which they have dubbed “Freedom”.
The Crew Dragon was developed by SpaceX as part of a “commercial crew program” under a 2.6 billion deal with NASA. The idea behind the program was to move NASA into the role of a customer – allowing private companies to design, build and test a new spacecraft to serve NASA astronauts while the company was on the vehicle. Ownership should also be given.
Because SpaceX controls the vehicle, it has the ability to sell seats to whomever it wants, so the company has just completed and a previous space tourism mission that began in September last year.
What will they do in space?
Now that they have reached the ISS, the crew will be trapped with seven astronauts already on the ISS – including three NASA astronauts and one ESA astronaut who were part of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission, and three Russian astronauts.
The delivery period will be approximately five days, during which the crew-3 astronauts will be able to accommodate the crew-4 astronauts before the Crew-3 returns home aboard its SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
The Crew-4 astronauts will then carry out all the scientific experiments and maintenance duties on the space station that are on their to-do list.
According to NASA, “Experiments will include the effects of aging the immune system, solid alternatives to organic matter, and cardiovascular respiration during and after prolonged exposure to microgravity.” “These are just some of the more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations that will take place during their mission.”
Crew-4 is due to return from space in September, shortly after SpaceX launched its Crew-5 mission.
CNN’s Megan Marples collaborated.