SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Carrying Commercial Crew Heading To International Space Station

The latest team of crew members assigned to NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission are in orbit on their way to the International Space Station.

The mission was launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Dragon Endurance spacecraft into orbit carrying NASA astronauts Nicole Mann as mission commander, Josh Cassada, pilot, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina.

Dragon will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module around 4:57 p.m. Thursday, NASA said.

The international crew will serve as the agency’s fifth commercial crew rotation mission with SpaceX aboard the orbital laboratory.

“During their stay aboard the International Space Station, Crew-5 will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations, including studies on printing human organs in space and better understanding heart disease,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “While our eyes are focused upward on the heavens, let us never forget these missions will also better life here on Earth,” he added.

This is the first spaceflight for Mann, Cassada, and Kikina, the fifth for Wakata, andthe sixth SpaceX flight with American astronauts.

Mann, Cassada, Wakata, and Kikina will join the space station’s Expedition 68 crew of NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, Frank Rubio, and Jessica Watkins, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin. For a short time, the number of crew aboard the space station will increase to 11 people until Crew-4 astronauts Hines Lindgren, Watkins, and Cristoforetti return to Earth a few days later.

Crew-5 will spend several months aboard the space station conducting new scientific research in areas such as cardiovascular health, bioprinting, and fluid behavior in microgravity to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and to benefit life on Earth.

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