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Crew-8 astronauts head into quarantine ahead of Space Station launch

The next set of astronauts due to visit the International Space Station, known as Crew-8, have now entered quarantine ahead of their launch scheduled for early March. The launch date for the Crew-8 mission was recently pushed back by a week to allow for the launch of the Intuitive Machines lunar mission. Now, NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, plus Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, will spend two weeks in isolation ahead of their launch at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 from right to left, NASA astronauts Jeanette Epps, mission specialist; Matthew Dominick, commander; Michael Barratt, pilot; and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, mission specialist; participate in the Crew Equipment Interface Test at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.
Members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 from left: Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, mission specialist; and NASA astronauts Michael Barratt, pilot; Matthew Dominick, commander; and Jeanette Epps, mission specialist.  SpaceX

The quarantine is required to ensure the crew are healthy and won’t carry any bugs to the Space Station. where they could infect other crew members. The crew are allowed to see a limited number of family members and some other team members who have been cleared, but they will do most of their final preparations remotely during this period.

In a press conference last month, the crew members talked about how they prepared for the mission and what they were looking forward to. Mission Commander Matthew Dominick spoke of the many experiments that the astronauts will work on and the variety of jobs that they will perform, including being research subjects for studies into the effect of spaceflight on the human body.

“When people ask what is it that you do, I try to boil it down to something simple,” Dominick said. “I’m a mechanic, I’ve got to fix the space station when it breaks. And I’m a lab technician. And then third, I’m part of the experiment.”

Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps also spoke about a memento she’ll be taking with her to remind her of her family while she’s away. “One of the most special things that I’m taking with me is a photo of my mom,” Epps said. “I was selected in June 2009 and five days after I was selected, my mom passed away. But I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her and her work ethic and her emphasis on education growing up, so she was a big part of the reason that I’m here.”

The launch is scheduled for March 1, and will use the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour, which is the same craft used in previous Crew-2 and Crew-6 missions, as well as the first crewed test flight of the Dragon, Demo-2.

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Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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