Freedom soars!, as its carrying four astronauts into orbit
27 April 2022 NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are in orbit following their launch to the International Space Station at 03:52:47 EDT (07:52:47 UTC) Wednesday, April 27, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is the first flight of the Dragon “Freedom” spacecraft and the fourth flight of the first stage of Falcon 9 B1067, which previously launched the CRS-22, Crew-3 and Turksat 5B. After the stages were separated, Falcon 9's first stage 'core' landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Falcon 9 propelled the Dragon spacecraft into orbit carrying Mission Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, of NASA, 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, juggling 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 the station, Kjell, Hines, 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 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.
“It gives me great pleasure to see the successful launch of Samantha Cristoforetti and her Crew-4 (The third commercial crew mission to fly an ESA astronaut) colleagues. Samantha will take over from Matthias Maurer and continue to represent Europe and support European experiments aboard the space station throughout her mission,” says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.
Dragon C212 'Freedom' will dock autonomously to the PMA-3 / IDA-3 space-facing (Zenith) port of the station’s Harmony module around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 27. (April 28 at 01:30:00 UTC), Lindgren, Hines, Watkins, and Cristoforetti will join the space station’s Expedition 67 crew of Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, all NASA astronauts, Matthias Maurer of ESA, and cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveev of Roscosmos. For a short time, the number of crew aboard the space station will increase to 11 people until Crew-3 astronauts Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer return to Earth, Dragon C210 “Endurance” undocking scheduled no earlier than April 30 at 22:00:00 UTC.
The Crew-4 astronauts will spend six months aboard the space station conducting more than 200 scientific researches in areas such as materials science, health technologies, and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and to benefit life on Earth.