SpaceX will launch the fourth operational NASA Commercial Crew Program mission, known as Crew-4, to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday, April 23. 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."
Crew Dragon Freedom was delivered to NASA's Kennedy Space Center on April 16 (pictured above). It was transported from SpaceX’s processing facility at nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Engineers will now mate the spacecraft to the flight-proven Falcon 9 to roll it out to the pad in the days ahead.
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 is scheduled to lift off from Launch Complex 39A at 5:26 a.m. EDT. NASA and SpaceX representatives already completed a Flight Readiness Review to ensure all is really for launch. Crew-4 astronauts arrived to Florida today and are ready to begin final preparations and quarantine ahead of their six-month mission to the ISS.
The Flight Readiness Review for the #Crew4 mission has concluded and teams are proceeding toward a 5:26am ET liftoff on Saturday, April 23: https://t.co/5BZZnSd9ER— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) April 15, 2022
Our media teleconference will start momentarily on https://t.co/Ct94x1RTwM. pic.twitter.com/ZIp5jao1RW
🛬 @Astro_Kjell, @Astro_FarmerBob, @Astro_Watkins, and @AstroSamantha have arrived!— NASA's Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) April 18, 2022
The #Crew4 astronauts just landed and they are ready to begin final preparations for liftoff. Join us as the crew answers questions about their mission: https://t.co/xb3hu5q83w pic.twitter.com/qabIfYcX6L
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 Images Source: SpaceX & NASA