NASA’s BioExpt-1 Braced for Deep Space

NASA Project Manager Dinah Dimapilis is photographed next to one of the container assemblies that will carry the agency's Biology Experiment-1 on the Artemis I mission.
NASA Project Manager Dinah Dimapilis unboxes one of two container assemblies that will be used to carry the agency’s Biology Experiment-1 on the Artemis I mission. Photo credit: NASA

As NASA prepares to return to the Moon through Artemis, teams at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are working to send much smaller life forms to space to help scientists better understand the effects of space radiation before humans return to the lunar surface.

A number of science experiments, including the agency’s Biology Experiment-1 (BioExpt-1), will be flying on board Artemis I – the mission that will test the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion as an integrated system before sending astronauts to the Moon.

NASA’s Space Biology Program selected four biology experiments to fly as part of BioExpt-1, which involves using plant seeds, fungi, yeast, and algae to study the effects of space radiation before sending humans to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars.

“Each of these four experiments will help us understand a unique aspect of how biological systems can adapt and thrive in deep space,” said Sharmila Bhattacharya, NASA program scientist for space biology. “Gathering information like this and analyzing it after flight will eventually help us paint the full picture of how we can help humans thrive in deep space.”

During Artemis I, Orion will travel more than 40,000 miles beyond the Moon, passing through the Van Allen Belts – areas beyond low-Earth orbit where cosmic radiation is trapped – and providing researchers with a true deep space environment for conducting these experiments.

“We don’t currently know what the effects of radiation are outside of low-Earth orbit and how that could affect our system and our biology,” said Dinah Dimapilis, NASA project manager. “I’m excited to see what we can learn from these experiments, to see us go back to the Moon, and to know that I get to be a part of all of this.”

The four experiments will be split into two science bags fabricated and assembled by personnel with the Test Operations and Support Contract at Kennedy. About three weeks before launch, each science bag will be carefully placed into container assemblies built by a team with the Florida spaceport’s Laboratory Support Services and Operations Contract and then secured to the backbone of Orion.

When Orion finishes its journey and splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, each of the experiments will be returned to the principal investigators for further study. Those principal investigators were awarded grants from NASA Biological and Physical Sciences, totaling approximately $1.6 million. The awardees are Federica Brandizzi, Ph.D., Michigan State University; Timothy Hammond, Ph.D., Institute for Medical Research, Inc.; Zheng Wang, Ph.D., Naval Research Laboratory; and Luis Zea, Ph.D., University of Colorado, Boulder.

Weather Forecast Improves for Today’s OFT-2 Launch

Boeing OFT-2 mission
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is seen on the launch pad Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Liftoff of the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission, from Space Launch Complex-41, is targeted for today at 6:54 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron now predict an 80% chance of favorable weather for today’s uncrewed launch of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 6:54 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The primary weather concerns for launch day are the cumulus and anvil cloud rules violations during the instantaneous launch window.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, will lift off from Space Launch Complex-41. Live launch coverage begins at 6 p.m. EDT on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Starliner Joins Atlas V at Space Launch Complex-41

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolls out from the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 4, 2022, on its way to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

On Wednesday, May 4, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner was joined with the rocket that will launch the spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station on an uncrewed flight test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

During the operation, Starliner rolled out of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and made its way to Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in preparation for the company’s second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2)

CST-100 Starliner and Atlas V rocket
United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft are fully assembled in preparation for an integrated systems test. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

Starliner was raised and carefully placed onto the rocket and now is fully assembled and ready for an integrated systems test, a tip-to-tail electrical check of the 172-foot-tall Atlas V and Starliner stack.

OFT-2 is scheduled to launch Thursday, May 19, to demonstrate the system’s human transportation capabilities.

About 24 hours after launch, Starliner will rendezvous and dock to the space station and then return to Earth five to 10 days later. The test is the last flight before the Starliner system launches American astronauts on the Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the microgravity laboratory – the spacecraft’s first flight test with crew on board. Potential launch windows for CFT are under review and will be determined after a safe and successful OFT-2.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew on Twitter, and commercial crew on Facebook.

Media Invited to Joint Teleconference for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2

Starliner
A new service module was mated to a Boeing CST-100 Starliner crew module to form a complete spacecraft on March 12, 2022, in Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Starliner will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for Boeing’s second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: Boeing

NASA and Boeing will hold a joint media teleconference at noon EDT on Tuesday, May 3, to discuss the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) mission and provide an update on spacecraft readiness.

The teleconference includes the following participants:

  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • Michelle Parker, vice president and deputy general manager, Space and Launch, Boeing
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, CST-100 Starliner, Boeing

OFT-2 is scheduled to launch on Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Boeing’s uncrewed CST-100 Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for its flight test to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Starliner is expected to arrive at the space station for docking about 24 hours later with more than 500 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies. After a successful docking, Starliner will spend five to 10 days aboard the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth in the western United States. The spacecraft will return with nearly 600 pounds of cargo, including reusable Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System (NORS) tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members.

Media wishing to participate in the OFT-2 mission overview news teleconference must RSVP by 11 a.m., Tuesday, May 3, by emailing the Kennedy newsroom at ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Underway as Freedom Journeys to Station

Crew-4 astronauts, from left, Jessica Watson, mission specialist; Bob Hines, pilot; Kjell Lindgren, commander and Samantha Cristoforetti, mission specialist, are positioned inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom. Crew-4 launched to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:52 a.m. EDT on April 27, 2022.
Crew-4 astronauts, from left, Jessica Watkins, mission specialist; Bob Hines, pilot; Kjell Lindgren, commander and Samantha Cristoforetti, mission specialist, are positioned inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom. Crew-4 launched to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:52 a.m. EDT on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are on their way to the International Space Station, following the picture-perfect launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew, launched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida at 3:52 a.m. EDT.

“This is our fourth crew rotation flight – it’s kind of hard to believe,” said Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “It seems like Demo-2 was just yesterday, and it’s exciting to be here. We had a really clean countdown today – the Falcon 9 rocket did great; the Dragon vehicle did great. It was great to see the crew get in. You could tell they were excited to start their flight off.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Crew Dragon atop, soars upward after a 3:52 a.m. EDT liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission on April 27, 2022.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Crew Dragon atop, soars upward after a 3:52 a.m. EDT liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Upon their arrival at the space station, the Crew-4 astronauts will be greeted by NASA astronauts of the Expedition 67 crew already on board. During their six-month stay aboard the microgravity laboratory, Lindgren, Hines, Watkins, and Cristoforetti will join the Expedition 67 crew in conducting a number of science and research investigations.

The Crew-4 astronauts will conduct new and exciting scientific research in areas such as materials science, health technologies, and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth. Experiments will include studies on the aging of immune systems, organic material concrete alternatives, and cardiorespiratory effects during and after long-duration exposure to microgravity. These are just some of the more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations that will take place during their mission.

Launching alongside the crew in the Dragon capsule is an investigation that seeks to restore meaningful vision to people suffering from retinal degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. The Protein-Based Artificial Retina Manufacturing experiment tests the manufacturing of artificial retinas or retinal implants in microgravity, where it is expected their production could be optimized.

Also traveling to space aboard the Crew Dragon are Smart-Tex shirts as part of the German Space Agency (DLR) investigation called Wireless Compose-2. The shirts are fitted with sensors, wiring, and a communications module to wirelessly transmit data to a base station. The shirt is designed to monitor cardiovascular activity like relative blood pressure and can provide details about heart contraction rate and valve opening and closing times – something normally accessible only through sonography or CT scans. These kinds of wearable technologies could be used to monitor health throughout a long-duration space exploration mission and could lead to a more flexible implementation of this technology in health monitoring equipment on Earth.

Crew-4 is NASA’s fourth crew rotation mission with SpaceX for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Lindgren and Cristoforetti have previously traveled to the International Space Station, while it will be the first trip for Hines and Watkins. Crew-4 astronauts are slated to arrive at the space station today, April 27, with docking targeted for 8:15 p.m. EDT. Following docking and hatch opening, a welcoming ceremony is planned for 2:40 a.m. EDT.

Coverage of Crew-4’s arrival to the station will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, beginning with docking at 8:15 p.m. EDT.

For mission updates, visit the station blog at https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation. Learn more about commercial crew and space station activities by following @commercial_crew, @space_station, and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the Commercial Crew and ISS Facebook pages and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA Leadership Remarks on Upcoming Crew-4 Launch

From left, moderator Megan Cruz, NASA Communications; Bill Nelson, NASA administrator; Bob Cabana, NASA associate administrator; Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington; Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA (European Space Agency); and Heidi Parris, associate program scientist for the International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson attend a Crew-4 press briefing April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Crew-4 is the fourth crew rotation flight to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is targeted to launch atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A to the space station on Wednesday, April 27, at 3:52 a.m. EDT.
From left, moderator Megan Cruz, NASA Communications; Bill Nelson, NASA administrator; Bob Cabana, NASA associate administrator; Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington; Heidi Parris, associate program scientist for the International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson; and Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA (European Space Agency) attend a Crew-4 press briefing April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Earlier on Tuesday, April 26, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and senior NASA leadership addressed members of the media during a briefing held at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, now less than a day away.

“Flying safely with crew means that you’ve got to do it one step at a time,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters. “So, tomorrow morning, we’re hoping that you’ll get to see a really, really beautiful step, and we’ll get our crew safely to orbit.”

Crew-4 is the fourth crew rotation flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission will send NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to the International Space Station for a rotation science expedition, living and working as part of what is expected to be a 7-member crew.

Lindgren and Hines were assigned to the Crew-4 mission in February 2021 and began working and training on SpaceX’s next-generation human spacecraft and for their stay aboard the space station. Cristoforetti was assigned to the mission in March 2021 and Watkins was added as the fourth crew member in November 2021.

The Crew-4 mission continues NASA’s efforts to restore and maintain American leadership in human spaceflight. Regular commercial crew rotation missions enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place aboard the station. Such research benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, starting with the agency’s Artemis missions, which includes landing the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, which the crew has named Freedom, are scheduled to lift off at 3:52 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27. Just over 17 hours after launch, the crew is expected to arrive at the orbiting laboratory. Docking is planned for approximately 8:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Weather officials with the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron are predicting an 90% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch – this is derived from Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. The primary weather concerns are cumulus cloud and flight through precipitation rules.

For more than 21 years, humans have continuously lived and worked aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies that enable us to prepare for human exploration to the Moon and Mars. The station’s design requires humans living aboard to maintain it, operate it, and upgrade it; thus, International Space Station operations, including commercial resupply and commercial crew, are essential to the mission.

Live coverage of launch preparations and liftoff will begin at 12 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Read more on the Crew-4 mission blog.

Axiom Mission 1 Crew Safely Splashes Down Near Florida

Axiom Space's Ax-1 mission splashes down.
SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour capsule splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean on April 25, 2022, marking the end of Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 1 – the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: Axiom Space

Axiom Space astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy have safely returned to Earth, marking the end of the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) – the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, carrying the crew of four and more than 200 pounds of science and supplies, including NASA experiments and hardware, undocked from the space station at 9:10 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 24. About 16 hours later, the vehicle splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

“The success of this first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station is an important step in opening opportunities for space travelers and achieving NASA’s goal of enabling commercial business off the planet in low-Earth orbit,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This progress has been made possible by NASA’s work with private industry – especially the Commercial Crew Program. I’m incredibly proud of the NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom teams for safely completing this landmark mission. Welcome home, Ax-1!”

Chile peppers on the space station
Fresh chile peppers are pictured growing inside the International Space Station’s Advanced Plant Habitat shortly before being harvested late last year. Photo credit: NASA

The crew spent 15 days in orbit, conducting a variety of science experiments and technology demonstrations. A few highlights include research on cancer cell growth, a demonstration testing a new air purifier for station use, and a study utilizing swarms of autonomous tiles for future applications of in-space construction.

Following splashdown, teams will retrieve science aboard the Dragon spacecraft and transport it to nearby Kennedy Space Center for further investigation. Kennedy’s proximity to the coast allows researchers to study their experiments mere hours after their return to Earth, while the effects of microgravity are still largely intact.

NASA is partnering with commercial companies to establish a robust low-Earth orbit economy – one where government and private astronauts live and work aboard the space station and future commercial habitats. The agency recently selected Axiom Space to negotiate for a second private astronaut mission to the orbiting laboratory and plans to announce a third flight opportunity later this year.

Learn more information about NASA’s low-Earth orbit economy efforts at:

https://www.nasa.gov/leo-economy

 

Crew-4 Prelaunch Briefings, Weather Update

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Monday, April 25, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission is the fourth crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are scheduled to launch no earlier than April 27 from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Monday, April 25, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission is the fourth crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch is targeted at 3:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday, April 27, to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions at the launch pad for liftoff of the Crew-4 mission based on Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. The primary weather concerns for the launch area are the cumulus cloud and flight through precipitation rules. Teams also will monitor weather conditions both for the launch area and downrange for the flight of Crew Dragon.

NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch activities for the mission sending astronauts to the microgravity laboratory. Prelaunch activities will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 prelaunch coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Tuesday, April 26

7 a.m. (approximately) – Prelaunch news teleconference at Kennedy (no earlier than one hour after completion of the launch readiness review) with the following participants:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson
  • Zeb Scoville, chief flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, NASA Johnson
  • Jessica Jensen, vice president, customer operations and integration, SpaceX
  • Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA
  • Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron

Media may ask questions via phone only. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 6 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26, at: ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

9 a.m. – NASA Administrator Media Briefing on NASA TV with the following participants:

  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson
  • NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana
  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Heidi Parris, associate program scientist for the International Space Station Program
  • Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA

Media may ask questions in-person and via phone. Limited auditorium space will be available for in-person participation. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26, at: ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

NASA will provide a live video feed of Launch Complex 39A beginning Monday morning. Pending unlikely technical issues, the feed will be uninterrupted through launch: https://youtube.com/kscnewsroom.

SpaceX Completes Falcon 9 Static Fire Test in Preparation for Crew-4 Launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A during a brief static fire test ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission is the fourth crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are scheduled to launch on April 23 at 5:26 a.m. EDT, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A during a brief static fire test ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

On April 20, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the Dragon Freedom capsule and Crew-4 astronauts to the International Space Station surpassed a key milestone ahead of launch. While vertical on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, the rocket’s nine Merlin first-stage engines roared to life for seven seconds, completing the routine but critical integrated static fire test.

The Crew-4 mission will carry Mission Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Robert Hines, and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who will also serve as a mission specialist, to the space station for a six-month science mission.

This is the fourth crew rotation flight for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. More details about the mission and the Commercial Crew Program can be found in the online press kit, or by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew, and commercial crew on Facebook.

Crew-4 Dragon Rolls to the Pad, Completes Dry Dress Rehearsal

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen at sunrise on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission is the fourth crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are scheduled to launch on April 23 at 5:26 a.m. EDT, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen at sunrise on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission is the fourth crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with Crew Dragon atop, rolled out to the launch pad on April 19, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for NASA’s Crew-4 launch. The rocket is now in a vertical position at Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39A and underwent a successful dry dress rehearsal in the early morning hours of April 20 with the launch team and crewmembers.

The mission will carry NASA astronauts Kjell LindgrenRobert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, to the International Space Station for their planned science mission. This is the first spaceflight for Hines and Watkins and the second flight for Lindgren and Cristoforetti.

Upon their arrival, the Crew-4 astronauts will have a short overlap with NASA astronauts Raja ChariTom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission in November 2021. Also on board are Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg ArtemyevDenis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov who flew to the station on a Soyuz spacecraft on March 18, 2022, Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov.

The mission will fly a new Crew Dragon, which crew members have named Freedom. Mission Commander Lindgren tweeted the significance of the name: “The name celebrates a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit.” The spacecraft’s name also recalls Freedom 7, the spacecraft that carried Alan Shepard as the first American launched into space on May 5, 1961 aboard NASA’s Mercury-Redstone 3.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew on Twitter, and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following  @space_station  and @ISS_Research  on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook  and ISS Instagram  accounts.