Science & Technology

Space station astronauts excited about arrival of Crew-6

Miami, Mar 1 (EFE).- The four astronauts of Crew-5 aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday were in good humor and said that they are excited about welcoming the four members of NASA’s Crew-6 mission, who are scheduled to lift off for the orbital laboratory early Thursday morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Although Crew-5 will not be able to watch the Crew-6 liftoff, they are looking forward to seeing the “smiling faces” of their replacements arrive at the ISS, Crew-5’s US mission commander Nicole Aunapu Mann said at a press conference.

Mann, pilot Josh Cassada, also from the US, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina responded to questions from reporters while preparations were being made for their return to Earth this month.

The four Crew-5 specialists with the fifth manned mission undertaken jointly by NASA and SpaceX, have been on board the ISS for about six months and have performed more than 200 scientific experiments and technological tests along with carrying out assorted research projects.

Now, however, the moment is approaching when they will be replaced on board the orbital station by Crew-6.

“The operation has become so much more efficient since I first started to live onboard the space station in 2009. We are acquiring a variety of data that is going to continue human space exploration not only on the low Earth orbit but on the moon and Mars,” said Wakata, who has flown on five space missions.

All of the astronauts agreed that the aim of the mission is to extend the human frontier into space, that the experience of living together and doing research on board the ISS has been “absolutely incredible” and that the Dragon space capsule has been designed for the future.

“Dragon is an incredible space craft. It is definitely next generation,” Mann said. “We are thoroughly trained to take over in the case of any emergency scenario.”

The Crew-5 mission commander, the first Native American woman to travel into space, admitted that she yearns to breathe in the smell of the grass and the air of Earth once again, along with enjoying delicious meals.

Very enthusiastic throughout the interview, Cassada insisted that it was a rare privilege to be part of a space mission like the one he and his crewmates had undertaken, saying that it’s like “winning the lottery” to be part of such a mission, with such capable crewmates, doing what you love.

Meanwhile, Kikina, who became the first female cosmonaut with Russia’s space agency RosCosmos to travel on board a SpaceX spacecraft, joked about the long time it took her to wash her hair in space, where with no gravity it floated out from her head, and she shared a personal wish with the reporters: having tea in a real cup, not a plastic one, upon her return to Earth.

After two postponements for technical reasons, the four Crew-6 astronauts are scheduled to lift off for the ISS on March 2 aboard the Endeavour SpaceX module.

The mission received the “go” signal after a review was conducted to verify that all was in order from the technical and meteorological points of view, NASA said on Wednesday.

The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon Endeavour crew capsule is scheduled for 12:34 am from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

The Crew-6 astronauts include mission commander Stephen Bowen and pilot Warren Hoburg, both with NASA, and mission specialists Sultan Alneyadi, with the United Arab Emirates space agency, and Andrey Fedyaev, with RosCosmos.

EFE –/bp

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