SpaceX launched the fifth operational NASA Commercial Crew Program mission (Crew-5) to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 5th. A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at noon from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, propelling the Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft to orbit. NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina arrived at the Space Station on Thursday October 6, after a 29-hour voyage. Endurance docked to the orbiting laboratory Harmony module at 5:01 p.m. ET while the spacecraft was flying 258 miles above the west coast of Africa over the Atlantic Ocean. It is the first spaceflight for Mann, Cassada, and Kikina, who flew along veteran JAXA astronaut Wakata. They will work at the ISS Lab for around five months.
Docking confirmed! pic.twitter.com/nMUdoQLLis— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 6, 2022
The Expedition 68 crewmembers opened Dragon Endurance's hatch at 6:42 p.m. ET to welcome the Crew-5 astronauts inside the Station. They were welcomed by Russian cosmonauts and Crew-4 astronauts who will soon return to Earth aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom. Their exact return date is still pending, likely in one week. The ISS now has 11 crewmembers with the Crew-5 arrival.
Mann and Kikina are already making history during this Crew-5 mission. Mann is the first Native American woman to ever visit space. She is part of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Northern California and serves as SpaceX Crew-5 mission commander, as well as Expedition 68 flight engineer aboard the Station. "I am very proud to represent Native Americans and my heritage," Mann said during a press conference on October 1st, "We're all from very unique, different backgrounds. We all came from different educations and different job specialties. And it's really great to see everyone coming together."
And Kikina is making history as the first Russian to hitch-a-ride on American spacecraft in 20 years. She is the first Russian cosmonaut to fly on a SpaceX Dragon as part of a barter agreement between NASA and the Roscosmos Space Agency to maintain diplomacy in space ventures despite of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Kikina is currently the only woman in the Russian cosmonaut corps who hopes to inspire young Russian girls to study engineering. She is a mission specialist and will serve as an engineer aboard the Station.
The station now has 11 crew members with the arrival of the four @SpaceX #Crew5 members today. They'll work in space conducting @ISS_Research for the next several months. More... https://t.co/c1HjfHA6bQ pic.twitter.com/c9QviBjvKN— International Space Station (@Space_Station) October 6, 2022
Crew-5 will perform hundreds of science experiments in microgravity during their 150-day mission. “Missions like Crew-5 are proof we are living through a golden era of commercial space exploration. It’s a new era powered by the spirit of partnership, fueled by scientific ingenuity, and inspired by the quest for new discoveries,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “During their stay aboard the International Space Station, Crew-5 will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations, including studies on printing human organs in space and better understanding heart disease. While our eyes are focused upward on the heavens, let us never forget these missions will also better life here on Earth.”
Featured Images Source: NASA & SpaceX