NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are in orbit following their launch to the International Space Station at 3:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday, April 27, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The international crew of astronauts will serve as the fourth commercial crew rotation mission aboard the space station.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Dragon spacecraft into orbit carrying Mission Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, all NASA astronauts, and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency). The crew will conduct a science expedition in microgravity aboard the space station.
“Liftoff! The past few days at Kennedy Space Center have been inspiring and busy with the return of the Axiom crew and now the successful launch of Crew-4 astronauts to the International Space Station,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Aboard station, Kjell, Bob, Jessica, and Samantha will carry out research investigations that will help NASA prepare for longer duration stays on the Moon – and eventually Mars. These missions wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated NASA and SpaceX teams here on Earth. Godspeed, Crew-4!”
This Crew-4 mission is the first launch for Hines and Watkins, and the second flight to the station for Lindgren and Cristoforetti. It launched in a new Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew, and a Falcon 9 booster flying its fourth mission into space. This is the fifth SpaceX flight with NASA astronauts – including the Demo-2 test flight in 2020 to the space station – as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
During Dragon’s flight, SpaceX will monitor a series of automatic spacecraft maneuvers from its mission control center in Hawthorne, California, and NASA teams will monitor space station operations throughout the flight from the Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Dragon will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 27. NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing ongoing live coverage through docking, and hatch opening. NASA also will cover the ceremony to welcome the crew aboard the orbital outpost about 2:40 a.m. on Thursday, April 28.
“NASA, SpaceX and our international partners have worked tirelessly to ensure that the International Space Station continues conducting important research in microgravity, and working on a whole host of activities that benefit humanity and opens up access to more people in space,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. “Crew-4’s launch, less than two days after the return of the first all-private mission to station, exemplifies the spirit and success of the Commercial Crew Program to help maximize use of low-Earth orbit for years to come, testing the technologies we need for the Artemis program and beyond.”