Crew-4 astronauts set to fly to International Space Station

The Crew-4 astronauts walk out of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center before boarding two Tesla Model X electric vehicles. They rode those vehicles to Launch Complex 39A to board the Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket. From left to right: NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins and Bob Hines, European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren. Credit: Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

The astronauts of the Crew-4 mission are set to fly to the International Space Station in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft less than two days after the completion of the all-private Axiom Space mission.

Lifting off at 3:52 am EDT (07:52 UTC) April 27, 2022, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, Crew Dragon “Freedom” and four astronauts are set to fly into space atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

Flying aboard are NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

The Falcon 9 with Crew Dragon Freedom stand tall at Launch Complex 39A.  Credit: Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

The Falcon 9 with Crew Dragon Freedom stand tall at Launch Complex 39A. Credit: Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

According to SpaceX, Freedom is the company’s fourth and final Crew Dragon spacecraft to make up the company’s reusable human spacecraft fleet. The other three are Endeavor, Resilience and Endurance.

Freedom’s four-person Crew-4 mission is set to reach the ISS about a day after launch at about 8:15 pm EDT April 27 (00:15 UTC April 28). After docking and boarding the outpost, they are expected to live and workboard the orbiting laboratory, science experiments and tests as part of Expedition 67 for about five months.

Under the current schedule, Crew-4 is expected to return to Earth shortly after the arrival of the Crew-5 astronauts in early September.

When Crew-4 reaches the ISS, they are set to relieve the Crew-3 astronauts — NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, as well as ESA’s Matthias Maurer — who have been aboard since November 2021.

Crew-4 will remain aboard the ISS with Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev (who’ll be serving as commander of Expedition 67 following the departure of Crew-3), Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov.

The Russian trio is expected to return to Earth in late September aboard Soyuz MS-21.

Lindgren, Crew-4’s spacecraft commander, earned a Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Colorado in 2002 and is board certified in emergency medicine. He has been a NASA astronaut since 2009 and will be traveling to space for the second time.

During Lindgren’s first mission to the ISS in 2015, he logged 141 days in space, participated in two spacewalks and helped conduct more than 100 different scientific investigations.

Crew Dragon pilot, Bob Hines, was selected to be a NASA astronaut in 2017. As such, this is his first trip into space.

Credit: Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

Credit: Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider

Hines has served as a research pilot at NASA’s Johnson’s Space Center, logging more than 3,500 flight hours in 50 different types of aircraft. He also served more than 21 years in the United States Air Force as an instructor pilot, fighter pilot and test flight pilot.

Jessica Watkins, a mission specialist for the Crew-4 flight, was also an astronaut candidate in 2017 where she reported for duty after earning a bachelor’s degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Previous work experience found Watkins at NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and was a collaborator on the US space agency’s Curiosity Mars rover, which landed on the Red Planet in 2012.

Also serving as a mission specialist for the Crew-4 flight, Cristoforetti is going on her second trip into orbit, her first being a six-month stay at the ISS between November 2014 and June 2015.

Cristoforetti was initially planned to serve as commander of Expedition 68 for a short period. However, when the Crew-4 mission was shortened to just five months to better facilitate a direct handover with Crew-5, that was no longer in the cards as she would be returning to Earth before Expedition 67 concludes.

According to ESA in February 2022, Cristoforetti continued training for the commander position should the schedule revert to the initial longer mission.

“Returning to the International Space Station to represent Europe is an honor in itself,” Cristoforetti said. “I am humbled by my appointment to the position of commander and look forward to drawing on the experience I’ve gained in space and on Earth to lead a very capable team in orbit.”

“As crewmembers, we are ready to contribute as needed,” Cristoforetti said in a February 2022 ESA news release. “I am humbled to serve as a USOS lead and this role includes most of the duties I would have had as commander, but I also recognize that many people in Europe, especially women, were inspired by the perspective of having the first European female ISS commander . I regret that this will not happen on my flight, but we are in the process of selecting a new class of astronauts and I am confident that this class will include highly competent and driven women who will be ready, in the not-so-distant future, to fulfill leadership roles.”

Video courtesy of SpaceX

Tagged: Axiom Space Crew Dragon Crew-4 Expedition 67 Falcon 9 Freedom Lead Stories NASA SpaceX

Theresa Cross

Theresa Cross grew up on the Space Coast. It’s only natural that she would develop a passion for anything “Space” and its exploration. During these formative years, she also discovered that she possessed a talent and love for defining the unique quirks and intricacies that exist in mankind, nature, and machines. Hailing from a family of photographers—including her father and her son, Theresa herself started documenting her world through pictures at a very early age. As an adult, she now exhibits an innate photographic ability to combine what appeals to her heart and her love of technology to deliver a diversified approach to her work and artistic presentations. Theresa has a background in water chemistry, fluid dynamics, and industrial utility.

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