All Featured Images Source: KSC Photographer Ben Cooper via Twitter
NASA SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts completed training to launch aboard Crew Dragon in April. The crewmembers are: NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, who will share a ride with European Space Agency (ESA) Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. It will be SpaceX’s fourth operational mission under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) that is working to make launching astronauts from American soil routine. NASA CCP selected SpaceX and Boeing to conduct rotational flights to the International Space Station (ISS). Boeing has not completed its Starliner spacecraft testing to certify if it can safely transport humans. SpaceX returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States in 2020 and continues to demonstrate its Crew Dragon spacecraft is reliable to transport crew to and from the ISS. The astronauts assigned to the mission familiarized themselves with the spacecraft with a Crew Dragon replica simulator at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Even though Dragon operates autonomously, they must learn how to manually pilot the spacecraft in case it is needed and train for any kind of potential emergency.
SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are scheduled to launch no earlier than April 15 atop a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex-39A at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Launch in Florida [time pending]. For the first time SpaceX will reuse a thrice-flown Falcon 9 booster to launch NASA astronauts to the orbiting laboratory. According to NASA Commercial Crew Manager Steve Stich, the agency plans to launch Crew-4 using first-stage booster 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 a brand-new Dragon. Stitch also shared with reporters 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.
NASA's Crew-4 astronauts undergo final training at the Kennedy Space Center this past December ahead of their April 15 launch to the International Space Station (L-R: Jessica Watkins; Bob Hines; Cdr. Kjell Lindgren; and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA/Italy). pic.twitter.com/BJ283NlvME— Ben Cooper (@LaunchPhoto) January 28, 2022
Meet SpaceX's Crew-4 Crewmembers
Left to right: Jessica Watkins, Robert Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Samantha Cristoforetti. Source: Ben Cooper via Twitter
NASA Astronaut Jessica Watkins will serve as SpaceX Crew-4 mission specialist. Watkins joined NASA’s Astronaut Candidate Class in 2017. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University, and a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The agency shared she conducted graduate research on the emplacement mechanisms of landslides on Mars and Earth. And worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she collaborated with NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory that manages the Curiosity Rover that is currently exploring Mars' terrain.
NASA Astronaut Robert (Bob) Hines has served more than 21 years in the United States Air Force as an instructor pilot, fighter pilot, and a test pilot. Before joining NASA’s Astronaut class in 2017, he was a Research Pilot at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He has flown 50 different aircraft and has accumulated more than 3,500 hours of flight time on 76 combat missions around the world. Hines will serve as SpaceX Crew-4 spaceflight pilot, it will be his first spaceflight.
NASA Astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindgren will serve as SpaceX Crew-4 spacecraft commander. He is an emergency medical doctor who served as the Deputy Crew Surgeon for human spaceflight missions. He was selected to become an astronaut in June 2009. Dr. Lindgren flew to outer space in 2015 and worked at ISS as part of Expedition 44/45. He spent a total 141 days in space and participated in 2 spacewalks. The Crew-4 mission will be his second spaceflight.
ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti became the first Italian woman to visit outer space. She is a former Italian Air Force pilot and engineer. She holds the record for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a European astronaut, with a total of 199 days, 16 hours spent working in outer space. Cristoforetti has made history and the Mattel toy company even made a Barbie doll of her to inspire girls to be curious about science and engineering. She will serve as Crew-4 mission specialist and become commander of the ISS Expedition 68 crew which includes Russian cosmonauts working at the Space Station.
More: NASA's Crew-4 astronauts undergo final training at the Kennedy Space Center this past December ahead of their April 15 launch to the International Space Station (Cdr. Kjell Lindgren; Bob Hines; Jessica Watkins; and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA/Italy). pic.twitter.com/9EftzBqhBI— Ben Cooper (@LaunchPhoto) January 28, 2022
All Featured Images Source: Photographer Ben Cooper via Twitter