SpaceX launches 4 astronauts for NASA to space station

(Xinhua) 10:19, April 28, 2022

WASHINGTON, April 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. private space company SpaceX launched an international crew of four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) early Wednesday, the fourth commercial crew rotation mission for NASA.

The SpaceX launch vehicle, which consists of a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule, lifted off with its crew at 3:52 a.m. Eastern Day Time (EDT) (0752 GMT) Wednesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Freedom by the mission's crew, is scheduled to dock to the space station at 8:15 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

The Crew-4 flight carries three NASA astronauts - Mission Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, and one astronaut of the European Space Agency, Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti.

The four astronauts will spend several months aboard the space station conducting new scientific research 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, according to NASA.

"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," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

"Crew-4's launch, less than two days after the return of the first all-private mission to the 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," said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate.

Regular, long-duration commercial crew rotation missions enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place aboard the station, said the agency.

Such research benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars, starting with the agency's Artemis missions, which includes landing the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface, said NASA.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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