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NASA's Crew-4 docks at ISS
by Amy Thompson
Washington DC (UPI) Apr 27, 2021

NASA astronauts Mission Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) now are aboard the International Space Station following Crew Dragon's hatch opening about 9:15 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, April 27.

Crew-4 joins Expedition 67 crew of Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, all of NASA, Matthias Maurer of ESA, and cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveev of Roscosmos.

Crew-4 astronauts launched to International Space Station at 3:52 a.m. Wednesday, April 27, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The international crew of four will spend several months on the orbital complex on a science expedition mission.

earlier report
NASA and SpaceX launched four astronauts to the International Space Station early Wednesday.

Crew-4 boarded a brand new Crew Dragon capsule and launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS at 3:52 a.m. EDT from launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins are joined by European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on the mission to the space station.

The crew will have a short time in orbit, arriving at ISS around 8:15 p.m. EDT, with the hatches between the spacecraft and station opened about an hour later.

The launch, originally planned for April 19, comes a week late thanks to a series of weather delays that kept Axiom Space's crew of astronauts at the ISS longer than expected.

Those astronauts -- part of the first private astronaut mission to fly to the orbital outpost -- splashed down on Monday in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., setting the stage for Crew-4 to blast off on Wednesday.

Crew-4 arrived at Kennedy Space Center on April 18, and have spent the last week preparing to stay aboard ISS for the next six months.

The quartet is composed of two spaceflight veterans and two rookies who are scheduled to perform a bevy of science during their stay, ranging from life sciences to physical science and even some technology demonstrations.

"We're incredibly grateful for this opportunity to be a part of a larger team that includes Kennedy Space Center, all the space centers here in the U.S., our commercial partners, and our international partners," Kjell Lindgren, mission commander of Crew-4, told UPI.

"We are just the part of the team that gets to go up to the space station and conduct the science and research to improve life here on earth and to extend our presence in the solar system," Lindgren said.

The flight is the second for both Lindgren and Cristoforetti.

After serving in the Italian Air Force, Cristoforetti joined the European Space Agency's astronaut corps in 2009, and flew to the ISS on a Russian Soyuz in 2014.

Lindgren was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2009 and launched to the ISS the following year, in 2015, also aboard a Russian Soyuz.

He has spent a total of 141 days in space and has two spacewalks under his belt, while Cristoforetti spent a total of 200 days in orbit.

"We feel prepared, we are confident in our skills, and we're excited to fly and to put those skills to work," Lindgren said. "A long-duration expedition on station with this group, I think, is going to be very fulfilling and incredibly fun."

Both Hines and Watkins were selected as astronauts by NASA in 2017, and will join their fellow classmates Raja Chari and Kayla Barron, who are already at the ISS.

Hines served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force for more than 21 years before joining the astronaut corps. He also served as a NASA research pilot.

Watkins is another NASA-alum who worked as a geologist on the Curiosity Rover's science team before donning NASA blues. She has a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and will be the first African-American woman to fly to the ISS.

"We are super, super pumped to get up there and get to have this once in a lifetime experience," said Watkins. "To be able to look down on our home, from our perch up on orbit, it's just going to be super awesome."

Lindgren and Watkins were both chosen among 18 astronauts for NASA's return to the moon, Artemis, which could be the group of humans that step on the lunar surface in the next decade.

But before they take that giant leap, Lindgren, Watkins, Hines and Cristoforetti will have complete their trip to the ISS. Together, they decided to name their shiny new capsule "Freedom."

Lindgren said Crew-4 named their new Dragon Crew capsule Freedom, because "it celebrates a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit."

It's also a nod to Alan Shepard and his capsule, called the Freedom 7, which was the first American spacecraft to reach space in 1961, Lindgren said.

The spacecraft sat atop a Falcon 9 rocket that launched for the fourth time, having previously carried the Crew-3 Dragon, as well as a cargo Dragon and a communications satellite for Turkey.

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NASA Chief expects cooperation with Russia on ISS to continue
Washington (Sputnik) Apr 27, 2022
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on Thursday that he has full confidence Russia will extend its cooperation with the United States on the International Space Station (ISS) based on the continuing close cooperation and warm personal relations between crews from both countries and their control teams back on earth. "I see the friendliness between the two crews. I have that confidence that Russia will extend (its) cooperation on the International Space Station," Nelson said during a press briefing ... read more

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