NASA has announced two of the astronauts who will be heading to the International Space Station (ISS) in the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on its fourth operational flight.
NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines will be heading to the ISS and will be working as spacecraft commander and pilot respectively. The mission set to carry them into orbit, named Crew-4, is currently set for 2022. They will launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, aboard a Crew Dragon capsule and carried by a Falcon 9 rocket.
Lindgren is also a member of the Artemis Team, from which the next astronauts to visit the moon will be selected. He recently spoke to Digital Trends about his hopes for the benefits of a moon mission, and his previous experience visiting the ISS in 2015. He trained in medicine and worked as a flight surgeon before becoming an astronaut.
This will be Hines’s first trip into space. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force before becoming an astronaut, and he has a degree in aerospace engineering.
The first operational flight of the Crew Dragon capsule took place in November last year, with the Crew-1 mission carrying four astronauts including three from NASA and one from Japanese space agency JAXA to the space station. The next mission, Crew-2, is scheduled to take place in April this year, with a crew of two NASA astronauts, one from JAXA, and one from the European Space Agency. The third mission, Crew-3, is set for September this year with its full crew yet to be determined.
The first crewed test flight of the Crew Dragon capsule last year paved the way for NASA to regularly use the capsule for ferrying astronauts between Earth and the ISS under its Commercial Crew Program. Previously, the agency sent its astronauts to the ISS on Russian Soyuz rockets, which must have cost NASA a significant amount per passenger. With the Crew Dragon now taking up transport duties, astronauts are being launched from the U.S. for the first time since the closing of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
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