SpaceX is ready to launch the fourth operational NASA Commercial Crew Program mission, known as Crew-4. It will launch an international crew to the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, April 19 [time pending]. The Crew-4 NASA astronauts are Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, who will ride alongside European Space Agency (ESA) Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti aboard a brand-new Crew Dragon spacecraft. "FREEDOM!! Crew-4 will fly to the International Space Station in a new Dragon capsule named 'Freedom'," said NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, "The name celebrates a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit."
"Through the Commercial Crew Program, NASA and SpaceX have restored a national capability and we honor the ingenuity and hard work of those involved. Alan Shepard flew on Freedom 7 at the dawn of human spaceflight. We are honored to bring Freedom to a new generation!" wrote Lindgren via Twitter.
Through the Commercial Crew Program, NASA and SpaceX have restored a national capability and we honor the ingenuity and hard work of those involved. Alan Shepard flew on Freedom 7 at the dawn of human spaceflight. We are honored to bring Freedom to a new generation! 2/2 pic.twitter.com/0vDuDhuAsI— Kjell Lindgren (@astro_kjell) March 23, 2022
Crew Dragon Freedom is the fourth spacecraft in SpaceX's reusable fleet that includes: Endeavour, Resilience, and Endurance. The company aims to use each spacecraft at least five times for crewed missions. Freedom will be propelled to orbit by a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket that will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 19. SpaceX has used a previously-flown rocket for a crewed flight, however, the upcoming Crew-4 mission will be the first commercial crew mission to launch astronauts on a booster's fourth flight.
According to NASA Commercial Crew Manager Steve Stich, the agency plans to launch Crew-4 using first-stage booster identified as B1067, which previously launched the company’s 22nd cargo Commercial Resupply Services mission to the orbiting laboratory (CRS-22) in June 2021, then it launched Crew-3 astronauts to the ISS in November 2021, and it deployed Turkey’s Turksat-5B satellite in December 2021. Now, the previously-flown booster will launch the Crew-4 astronauts aboard Freedom to the Space Station. Stitch told reporters at the conference that the agency is “working on an evolutionary path to fly a booster up to five times” for crewed flights. SpaceX recovers rockets by conducting propulsive landings. The booster that will launch Crew-4 to space is filled with scorch marks from reentering Earth’s atmosphere multiple times, pictured below.
Photo Source: Ben Cooper @LaunchPhoto via Twitter
Featured Image Source: SpaceX