SpaceX’s Crew-4 astronauts are making their final preparations for next month’s mission to the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are scheduled to launch aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, April 19.
While Lindgren and Cristoforetti have both been to space before, the Crew-4 mission will mark the first such trip for Hines and Watkins.
The crew has been training for their upcoming mission at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and also at the Kennedy Space Center.
Preparations involve simulation exercises aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft simulator that features flight-realistic hardware, displays, and seats.
Crew Dragon training includes getting familiar with routine tasks but also, more importantly, learning how to deal with unexpected situations aboard the spacecraft such as system failures.
“Commander Lindgren and pilot Hines took their places in the center seats, with access to flight displays they’ll use to monitor the spacecraft’s status and, if needed, take manual control of the spacecraft,” NASA said.
The four crewmates have also taken a trip on SpaceX’s Dragon recovery vessel that will be used to collect the astronauts following the splashdown at the end of their mission later this year. Offering some insight into SpaceX’s wider operation, the astronauts were also given a tour of a SpaceX hangar where Falcon 9 reusable rockets are refurbished and prepared for flight.
April’s Crew-4 mission will take place 20 months after SpaceX’s first crewed flight that saw NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken use the Crew Dragon spacecraft to travel to and from the space station in the Demo-2 test mission.
Following the successful maiden mission, SpaceX sent four Crew-1 astronauts to the ISS for a six-month stay in November 2020.
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