Meet the Crew-4 Astronauts

The official crew portrait of the SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts representing NASA's Commercial Crew Program. From left are, Pilot Robert Hines, Mission Specialists Samantha Cristoforetti and Jessica Watkins, and Commander Kjell Lindgren. Hines, Watkins, and Lindgren are NASA astronauts and Cristoforetti is an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut.
The official crew portrait of the SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts representing NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. From left are, Pilot Robert Hines, Mission Specialists Samantha Cristoforetti and Jessica Watkins, and Commander Kjell Lindgren. Hines, Watkins, and Lindgren are NASA astronauts and Cristoforetti is an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut. Photo credit: NASA

Kjell Lindgren is commander of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Crew-4 mission. He is responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry, and will serve as an Expedition 67 flight engineer aboard the station. This will be Lindgren’s second spaceflight since becoming an astronaut in 2009. In 2015, he spent 141 days aboard the station as an Expedition 44/45 flight engineer. Board certified in emergency medicine, he previously worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston as a flight surgeon supporting space station training and operations and served as a deputy crew surgeon for space shuttle flight STS-130 and Expedition 24. Lindgren was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and spent most of his childhood in England before graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Robert Hines is the pilot of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and second in command for the mission. He is responsible for spacecraft systems and performance. Onboard the station, he will serve as an Expedition 67 flight engineer. This will be his first flight since his selection as an astronaut in 2017. Hines has served more than 22 years in the U.S. Air Force as a test pilot, fighter pilot, and instructor pilot. Before his selection in 2017, he was a research pilot at Johnson.

Jessica Watkins is a mission specialist for Crew-4 and will work closely with the commander and pilot to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. Once aboard the station, she will become a flight engineer for Expedition 67. Watkins grew up in Lafayette, Colorado, and studied geology at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, and the University of California, Los Angeles. As a geologist, she studied the surface of Mars and was a science team collaborator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, working on the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. She also was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2017, and this will be her first trip to space.

Samantha Cristoforetti will also serve as a mission specialist, working to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. She will be a flight engineer for Expedition 67. This will be her second trip to space following five months in 2015 as an Expedition 42/43 flight engineer. Born in Milan, Italy, she was a fighter pilot in the Italian Air Force prior to being selected as an ESA astronaut in 2009. In 2019, she served as commander for NASA’s 23rd Extreme Environment Mission Operations mission on a 10-day stay in Aquarius, the world’s only undersea research station.

Hatch Closed on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen illuminated by spotlights on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen illuminated by spotlights on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The hatch is now closed on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew. Liftoff of NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is just a little under two hours away (3:52 a.m. EDT) for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission.

Crew-4 Astronauts Secured Inside Crew Dragon Freedom, Ready for Hatch Closure

The crew has finished executing communication and suit leak checks with the launch team, and their seats have been rotated into position for launch. The seats in Dragon start out upright for easy entry and rotate to launch position, which allows for easy access to the display panels. Up next, the hatch on Freedom will be closed.

All Aboard! Astronauts Climb into Crew Dragon Freedom

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon atop is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 26, 2022, ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon atop is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 26, 2022, ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA

The Crew-4 astronauts are now boarding SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which they have named Freedom, for this mission. Before entering Freedom, each of the crew members signed their name on one of the walls inside the White Room – the connecting area between the crew access arm and the spacecraft.

As the astronauts enter the spacecraft, their seats are configured in an upright position. Once the crew is securely inside, the seats will be rotated into a reclined position for launch, just before teams close Freedom’s side hatch – this coming up in a little more than 30 minutes.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Astronauts Arrive at Launch Site

NASA astronauts Robert Hines, left, and Kjell Lindgren, right, are seen in the vehicle that will carry them and crew mates NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, to Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-4 mission launch, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA astronauts Robert Hines, left, and Kjell Lindgren, right, are seen in one of the vehicles that carried them and crew mates NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, to Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-4 mission launch, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti have arrived at Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, where a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Freedom spacecraft await liftoff.

In the next few minutes, the crew will take the elevator up the pad’s launch tower and walk across the crew access arm into the White Room – the final Earth-bound stop for the crew before entering the spacecraft.

Crew-4 Astronauts Ride to the Pad

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren waves to family and friends as he and crew mates, NASA astronauts Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-4 mission launch, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren waves to family and friends as he and crew mates, NASA astronauts Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-4 mission launch, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Riding in a convoy of Tesla Model X vehicles, the Crew-4 astronauts have a short ride to the launch pad before launching on their ride of a lifetime. Riding in one car together are Commander Kjell Lindgren and Pilot Robert Hines.

The vehicles carrying Lindgren, Hines, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are traveling to the pad in the middle of a convoy that includes support team members and security personnel. Waiting for the crew’s arrival at the launch pad is the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Freedom spacecraft that will send the four-member crew to the International Space Station.

Next Stop: Historic Launch Complex 39A

The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts walk out through the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: NASA
The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts walk out through the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: NASA

The astronauts who will soon fly to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission just walked out of the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters and made their way to the Tesla Model X cars that will take them to Launch Complex 39A.

Since the late 1960s, Pads A and B at Launch Complex 39 have supported America’s major space programs, with Pad A used most frequently for launches under the Space Shuttle Program. After the retirement of the shuttle program in 2011, Pad A helped usher in a new era of spaceflight with the historic Demo-1 launch for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which returned human spaceflight capability to the U.S.

Key Milestones to Keep in Mind for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Mission

Below are some of the key milestones leading up to the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, as well as some critical events that occur after liftoff. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are scheduled to lift off just a little more than four hours from now at 3:52 a.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

  • 12:32 a.m. Crew walkout from Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building
  • 1:22 a.m. Crew arrival at Launch Complex 39A
  • 1:37 a.m. Crew ingress into Freedom
  • 1:57 a.m. Freedom hatch closure
  • 2:43 a.m. Mission Director Go/No-Go poll for propellant loading
  • 2:48 a.m. Final Go/No-Go for propellant loading
  • 3:10 a.m. Crew access arm retracts
  • 3:14 a.m. Dragon launch escape system is armed
  • 3:17 a.m. Falcon 9 propellant loading begins
  • 3:48 a.m. Strongback retraction
  • 3:50 a.m. Falcon 9 propellant load complete and vehicle transitions to internal power
  • 3:52 a.m. Liftoff!
  • 4:01 a.m. Falcon 9 second stage engine cutoff (SECO)
  • 4:04 a.m. Crew Dragon separation from Falcon 9
  • 4:05 a.m. Crew Dragon nosecone deploy

Astronauts Suited, Prepare for Journey to Launch Pad

NASA SpaceX Crew-4 mission astronauts are in the suit-up room in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on April 27, 2022. A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them as they put on their custom-fitted spacesuits and check the suits for leaks. At center is ESA astronaut and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti. Photo credit: NASA

Crew-4 astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and Samantha Cristoforetti have finished putting on their SpaceX spacesuits and will soon depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for the short journey to Launch Complex 39A. At the pad, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff.

The Crew-4 mission will fly a new Crew Dragon spacecraft and will launch on a Falcon 9 booster that has previously sent four missions into space. It is tradition the first astronauts to fly a new capsule name their spacecraft; Crew-4 chose “Freedom” to celebrate a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit.

Crew-4 Astronauts Suit Up for Launch

NASA SpaceX Crew-4 mission astronauts are in the suit-up room in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on April 27, 2022. A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them as they put on their custom-fitted spacesuits and check the suits for leaks.
NASA SpaceX Crew-4 mission astronauts are in the suit-up room in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on April 27, 2022. A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them as they put on their custom-fitted spacesuits and check the suits for leaks. Photo credit: NASA

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are inside the Astronaut Crew Quarters at Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, suiting up for tonight’s launch to the International Space Station.

A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them put on their custom-fitted spacesuits, while checking the suits for leaks. Designed for safety and functionality, the spacesuits also provide modern comfort and style. They supply pressurization, protecting the crew from potential depressurization, and a port located on the thigh connects to life support systems, including air and power. Also included in the suits are touchscreen-compatible gloves and a flame-resistant outer layer.