By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 flight crew has reported to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to start final preparations for liftoff of the mission to the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, commander; Josh Cassada, pilot; and mission specialists Koichi Wakata, of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina arrived at the Launch and Landing Facility at approximately 12:15 p.m. EDT Saturday, Oct. 1, after departing Ellington Field near the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The Crew-5 crew will call the Astronaut Crew Quarters at Kennedy home before the Crew-5 launch – targeted for noon EDT Wednesday, Oct. 5, from the spaceport’s Launch Complex 39A.
“It is always great to come back to Florida, but it’s really great to welcome Crew-5,” said NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana, who, along with Kennedy Director Janet Petro, was there to greet the crew members as they exited the aircraft. A veteran of four spaceflights, Cabana served as Kennedy’s director for more than a decade.
The crew members are slated to lift off from Kennedy aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance – carried by the company’s Falcon 9 rocket – for a science expedition mission to the space station. The spacecraft will dock to the forward port on the station’s Harmony module about 22 hours later.
“It’s time to get to work. Nobody does this alone, and we have thousands of people around the globe we need to thank for getting us to this spot,” Cassada said during the crew arrival media event. “This is a remarkable opportunity for all of us. We have trained and prepared for years for this.”
The mission marks the fifth spaceflight for Wakata; it is the first spaceflight for Mann, Cassada, and Kikina. Crew-5 marks another important first, as Mann will become the first Native American person in space.
“I am very proud to represent Native Americans and my heritage. I think it’s important to celebrate our diversity and also realize how important it is when we collaborate and unite, the incredible accomplishments that we can have,” Mann said.
“We hope that this will inspire young children throughout the world who come from varying backgrounds; in fact, I hope it inspires adults as well – to follow your dreams, to realize the limitations we had in the past are starting to be broken down and we’re able to achieve things when we work together that perhaps were not possible long ago,” Mann added.
Crew-5 crewmates will participate in a handover ceremony with astronauts from NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission. Following the handover period, Mission Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Robert Hines, and mission specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti will depart the space station for a splashdown off the coast of Florida.