On October 5, SpaceX It will launch another passenger mission, making history in the process: it will include astronaut Anna Kikina, who will become the first Russian to fly aboard a private American spacecraft.
Crew-5, the newest commercial crew mission, will launch no later than October 5 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will dock at the International Space Station for the next 24 hours.
Besides Kikina, the rocket will also carry two NASA astronauts, Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. The crew is headed to the International Space Station, where they will conduct experiments in microgravity. in April, Space.com It reported that SpaceX’s Crew-4 astronauts’ mission blasted off to the International Space Station in less than 16 hours – its fastest flight to date.
These astronauts will blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket aboard a Crew Dragon Endurance capsule. Endurance It was used on a similar mission, Crew-3, in November 2021.
In keeping with space tradition, commercial astronauts have named their Dragon capsules. The name Endurance Chosen by Crew-3 astronauts, it carries a double meaning.
According to American astronaut Raja Chari, they chose it in honor of the endurance of the NASA and SpaceX crews who built the capsule and facilitated the flight. The name also goes back to the ship used in the famous 1914 Shackleton expedition across Antarctica.
What will CREW-5 do on the International Space Station?
NASA says it is preparing a variety of experiments for the crew to complete while they are in the unique microgravity environment that is the International Space Station, including “Printing human organs in space, understanding fuel systems operating on the moon, and better understanding heart disease, according to NASA.
“With the Crew-5, we’re looking at a mission that will take about five to six months. Overall, we have about 250 to 300 experiments for the crew to do,” said Joel Montalbano, NASA International Space Station program manager, at a press conference. It’s also looking for upcoming spacewalks.
SPACEX CREW-5 release date, time and schedule
The Crew-5 mission is scheduled to launch no later than October 5 at 12:00 p.m. It was originally scheduled for early September and was pushed to September 29 after the Falcon 9 booster was damaged. Hurricane Ian also delayed the launch to October 3. And now October 5 is the initial launch date, with October 7 as a backup date.
The Crew-5 launch vehicle will consist of a Crew Dragon capsule Endurance On a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 is launched from the LC-39A platform at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. To see the scene for yourself, you can watch the launch on NASA TV or the SpaceX website.
What is ‘integrated crew’, and what does it have to do with ‘5 crew’?
With tensions at an all-time high between Russia and the United States over the war in Ukraine, it may seem like an odd time to launch the first cosmonaut on a commercial flight. But the move is part of NASA’s “integrated crew” strategy for the International Space Station.
On July 15, NASA and Roscosmos officials signed the long-awaited Integrated Crew Agreement in Moscow. This agreement allows Russian cosmonauts to travel on Crew Dragon flights to the International Space Station, and for American astronauts to launch Soyuz flights each year.
NASA says Dragon flights will allow safer access to the International Space Station. The agency wants more options for access to the International Space Station because it allows for individual points of failure. It is worth noting that the signing of this agreement coincided with Vladimir Putin’s dismissal of the former head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin.
Rogozin was a longtime adversary of NASA, known for his erratic use of social media. A month later, Russia announced that Roscosmos will leave the International Space Station after 2024. This move, if it comes into effect, will mean that all future astronauts who go to the space station will have to use other launch providers, including SpaceX.
Who are the Crew-5 crew members?
Crew-5 will bring 4 trained astronauts from the United States, Japan and Russia to the International Space Station.
The astronauts aboard the Crew-5 are:
- NASA astronaut Nicole Mann as commander of the spacecraft
- NASA astronaut Josh Cassada as pilot
- JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata as mission specialist
- Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina as mission specialist
Nicole Mann, one of the two NASA astronauts, will be the spacecraft commander for the Crew-5 mission. As commander, MAN is responsible for overall mission success and crew safety.
While this is Mann’s first flight into space, she has a long career as a military pilot, flying 25 different types of aircraft on 47 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the first time a commercial crew has had a female captain, and she is one of three women to run the race for the first woman on the moon.
NASA’s second astronaut, Josh Cassada, will be a pilot for the Crew-5. As a pilot, Casada will maneuver the Dragon capsule to coordinate with the guidance systems. Like Mann, Cassada was in the Army and served on 23 combat missions. Mann also studied physics as a graduate student at the University of Rochester and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata is the only crew member to have ever been to space. Wakata has been on four space shuttle missions, and one Soyuz mission, making this his fifth trip into space. As one of the two mission specialists on the Crew-5, Wakata will perform all kinds of missions on the Dragon capsule.
According to NASA, mission specialists will “work closely with the commander and pilot to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and return phases of flight.” Wakata was also the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station in 2014.
Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina will be Crew-5’s second important specialist. Kikina is not only the first female astronaut on a commercial flight, but also the only active female astronaut on Roscosmos. Kikina will perform a similar set of tasks as Wakata on the Dragon capsule. From now on, Kikina’s role in Crew-5 could open the door to future US-Russian cooperation in space.