History was made today when astronaut Dr. Jessica Watkins traveled to the International Space Station (the ISS) from the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida. She becomes the first black woman launched into space to serve an extended mission on the ISS. From NASA, “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.” Head here for up-to-date information about the mission.