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NASA’s SpaceX crew launches to International Space Station

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The crew assigned to NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission is in orbit following today’s launch to the International Space Station. The international crew will serve as the agency’s fifth commercial crew rotation mission with SpaceX aboard the orbital laboratory.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Dragon Endurance spacecraft into orbit. It carried NASA astronauts Nicole Mann as mission commander, and pilot Josh Cassada. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, also aboard the Dragon, will serve as mission specialists aboard the space station.

“Missions like Crew-5 are proof we are living through a golden era of commercial space exploration. It’s a new era powered by the spirit of partnership, fueled by scientific ingenuity, and inspired by the quest for new discoveries,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “During their stay aboard the International Space Station, Crew-5 will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations, including studies on printing human organs in space and better understanding heart disease.

“While our eyes are focused upward on the heavens, let us never forget these missions will also better life here on Earth.”

During Dragon’s flight, SpaceX will monitor a series of automatic spacecraft maneuvers from its mission control center in Hawthorne, Calif. NASA teams will monitor space station operations throughout the flight from the Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Dragon will dock to the station’s Harmony module around 3:57 p.m. CST today. NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of docking and hatch opening. NASA also will cover the ceremony to welcome the crew aboard the orbital outpost about 7:15 p.m. CST.

Mann, Cassada, Wakata, and Kikina will join the space station’s Expedition 68 crew of NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, Frank Rubio, and Jessica Watkins, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin. For a short time, the number of crew aboard the space station will increase to 11 people until Crew-4 astronauts Hines Lindgren, Watkins, and Cristoforetti return to Earth a few days later.

The crew will spend several months aboard the space station conducting scientific research in cardiovascular health, bioprinting, and fluid behavior in microgravity. The results of the research will help prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and to benefit people on Earth.

“The International Space Station continues to serve a critical role in helping NASA and our partners understand and maximize the unique attributes of the microgravity environment,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. “I am grateful to the many people who worked to ensure a safe Crew-5 launch despite the recent hurricane so the crew can fulfill their mission to the orbiting laboratory.”

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