CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The four astronauts in the NASA and SpaceX Crew-4 mission arrived at Kennedy Space Center Monday, ahead of this weekend’s launch.
NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins, Robert Hines and Kjell Lindgreen, along with European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, arrived at KSC at 12:30 p.m.
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‘’This is getting real,’’ said Cristoforetti, a mission specialist. ‘’We’re going to space very soon.’’
The upcoming crewed mission to the International Space Station will take place no earlier than 5:26 a.m. Saturday, NASA said. The astronauts will launch in a new Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
Crew-4 named the capsule “Freedom.”
Welcome to @NASAKennedy, Crew Dragon Freedom!— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) April 16, 2022
The @SpaceX capsule that'll carry four astronauts to the @Space_Station arrived at Launch Complex 39A after making the journey from its nearby processing facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station: https://t.co/B9Ykhaj7jG pic.twitter.com/daYdB0ENeH
‘’For our crew to have not only the opportunity to fly on a new vehicle, but to name a new vehicle, is truly an honor,’’ said Hines, the pilot of the mission.
In case of further delays, NASA said Sunday, April 24, and Monday, April 25, would serve as additional backup dates.
In a training session earlier this month, the crew took part in simulations “focused on undocking and department” from the space station.
The upcoming launch comes just two weeks after the first all-private mission to the space station when SpaceX and Axiom Space sent Michael Lopez-Alegria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe up in the sky in a Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule.
The Ax-1 crew is scheduled to return home before Crew-4 arrives.
The Crew-3 astronauts, who launched last fall, plan to undock and splash down on Earth after Crew-4 replaces them.
Watkins will become the first Black American woman to complete a long-term mission on the station.
‘’I am just really honored to be a part of the long legacy of Black astronauts and Black women astronauts who came before me,’’ she said.