LIFTOFF! Today, October 5th, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched NASA's Crew-5 mission at noon from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Crew-5 is the fifth operational NASA Commercial Crew Program mission to the International Space Station (ISS) that launched an international crew of four, including the first Native American astronaut and the first Russian woman cosmonaut to ever ride a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon! pic.twitter.com/TKEw6S1rKE— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 5, 2022
The only woman in Russia’s cosmonaut corps, Anna Kikina, launched on the Crew-5 mission as part of a barter agreement between NASA and the Roscosmos Space Agency. The barter deal was planned before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February and moved forward despite of the ongoing war to maintain diplomacy between global space agencies. It is cosmonaut Kikina's first spaceflight; she is the fifth Russian female to ever visit space. "When you each are flying other's crew members, you know that you have a huge responsibility that you're promising to the other country," said NASA associate administrator Kathy Lueders. "At a working level, we really appreciated the constancy in the relationship, even during some really, really tough times geopolitically."
The Crew-5 mission is also historic because NASA Astronaut Nicole Mann is the first Native American to ever work in outer 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."
They launched to orbit alongside NASA astronaut Josh Cassada and Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata aboard the previously-flown Crew Dragon Endurance. The Falcon 9 rocket returned from space soon after propelling the spacecraft to orbit; It landed on the 'Just Read the Instructions' droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Falcon 9’s first stage booster has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/qKk3uk4J9B— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 5, 2022
It marks the first spaceflight for Cassada and the fifth mission for veteran Wakata. "Whew! That was a smooth ride uphill," Mann told mission control, "We've got three rookies who are pretty happy to be in space right now," she said. "It was a smooth ride, and I see all the three happy faces here, to be back in zero-g," Wakata added, "Thank you so much!" SpaceX includes an adorable zero gravity indicator to inspire children during every crewed flight. For Crew-5, the zero-g indicator is an Albert Einstein plush toy which was chosen to honor the memory of the knowledge he shared. NASA shared a video of the toy floating in the cabin, linked below.
"Imagination encircles the world." —Albert Einstein— NASA (@NASA) October 5, 2022
The zero-gravity indicator for the #Crew5 mission is revealed to be a toy Einstein. It's used to show when the capsule reaches the weightlessness of microgravity as it circles the globe en route to the @Space_Station. pic.twitter.com/wOE7GbWfNA
“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.”
The Endurance spacecraft is scheduled to dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the ISS Harmony module at 4:57 p.m. on Thursday, October 6. The agency will provide live coverage of docking and hatch opening in the video livestream linked below. Crew-5 will work and live at the Space Station for around six months. Upon arrival, they will be welcomed by Crew-4 astronauts who will soon return to Earth aboard Crew Dragon Freedom. The Crew-5 mission is SpaceX's 8th astronaut spaceflight since it's first in 2020. It has launched a total of 30 people to space to date, including both NASA missions and private commercial flights.
NASA TV SCHEDULE (Eastern Time)
Thursday, October 6
4:57 p.m. – Docking of NASA's SpaceX Crew Dragon Crew-5 Crew to the International Space Station (preceded by continuous coverage of rendezvous activities)
6:42 p.m. – Opening of the Hatch on NASA's SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance as the Crew-5 Crew Enters the International Space Station
8:05 p.m. – Welcoming Remarks by NASA's SpaceX Crew Dragon Crew-5 Crew Aboard the International Space Station
Tuesday, October 11 at 11:55 a.m. – NASA's SpaceX Crew Dragon Crew-4 Pre-Departure On-Orbit News Conference
VIDEO: NASA LIVESTREAM
Featured Image Source: NASA & SpaceX