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NASA Astronauts Bound for International Space Station Prepare for SpaceX’s Crew-4 Mission

NASA astronauts aboard Crew-4 arrive at Kennedy Space Center
(Photo : Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images)

Arriving at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday, Apr. 19, the astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew-4 fielded questions on their trip to the International Space Station come Apr. 23. The four-person group consists of NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

The team will embark upon a science mission under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the fourth planned mission for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, following its Crew-3 mission for NASA and the 22nd commercial resupply service for SpaceX. This will be the first time under the Commercial Crew Program that it will be running on a fourth-flight booster, which will only propel the industry forward in its inevitable endeavor. 

The excitement and utter glee are certainly palpable on each astronaut’s face as they prepare for this next leap into the stars. Lindgren will be commanding the mission, Hines will be piloting the Freedom rocket, and both Watkins and Cristoforettie will be mission specialists on the trip.  

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“We’re all super excited to be here, to be at KSC, and to really start off this journey that we’re so excited to embark on. Along with being excited, we’re also super grateful. We get to be the representatives, the kind of tip of spear – if you will – of an enormous team of people that we get to interact with and represent to the best of our abilities. And, so we just want to thank everybody that has helped us arrive at this moment,” Watkins said on the tarmac after arrival. 

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 with Dragon Freedom on top will be launched into space at an orbital velocity of 17,500 mph before being separated, allowing the mission to proceed to its docking at the ISS. The space capsule itself was attached on Apr. 17 to the tip of the rocket at a horizontal angle before being dragged onto the launch pad on Apr. 19 in preparation for departure. 

The Crew-4 mission is scheduled for an early liftoff at 5:26 AM EDT on Saturday, Apr. 23. Live coverage of the event will be broadcast on NASA’s live TV station starting on Saturday at 1:45 AM. 

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