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Watch SpaceX’s Crew-4 astronauts arrive at new home in space

SpaceX’s Crew-4 astronauts have safely boarded the International Space Station (ISS) after a 16-hour ride to the orbiting laboratory — the fastest Crew Dragon trip to the facility yet.

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, together with Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency, traveled to the ISS aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft, docking with the facility 260 miles above Earth at just after 7:35 p.m. ET (4:35 p.m. PT) on Wednesday, April 27.

NASA livestreamed the autonomous docking process, and also the moment when the new crewmembers entered the ISS through the connecting hatch. Waiting to greet them was the current seven-person ISS crew from the U.S., Germany, and Russia.

Just this morning, the four #Crew4 astronauts were launching from @NASAKennedy. Now they're being greeted by the crew of the @Space_Station. Watch as they enter their new digs.

— NASA (@NASA) April 28, 2022

Several hours later, the current crew officially welcomed the new arrivals:

Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome… The population on the International @Space_Station just grew by four! Watch live as the team on orbit welcomes the newly arrived @SpaceX #Crew4 astronauts, bringing the number of humans now orbiting Earth to 11.

— NASA (@NASA) April 28, 2022

The Crew-4 mission got underway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the early hours of Wednesday, with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket powering the astronauts into orbit in a spectacular night launch. The mission marked the fourth flight for the first-stage booster, and the first use of this particular Crew Dragon spacecraft, named “Freedom” by the crew.

With 11 people now aboard the space station, the facility will feel more crowded than usual. However, some space will open up soon when the four Crew-3 astronauts return to Earth in the coming days following a six-month stint in space.

The Crew-4 mission is SpaceX’s fifth flight to the ISS involving professional astronauts and comes nearly two years after the first one that saw Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken ride a Crew Dragon to the station in a test mission. Other crewed flights using SpaceX’s capsule include NASA’s first private astronaut mission to the ISS earlier this month, and last year’s orbital space trip involving four private citizens.

The Crew-4 astronauts will spend the next six months living aboard the orbiting outpost, performing science experiments, conducting spacewalks, and gazing out of the window at the incredible views of Earth.

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Trevor Mogg
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