Space

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 Astronauts Meet Their Dragon

SpaceX Dragon spacecraft rendering. Credit: SpaceX

The astronauts who will travel to orbit on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission next month are now very familar with their ride to space. In fact, crew members are now ready for their flight to the International Space Station for a science expedition mission, following a successful crew equipment interface testing (CEIT) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, commander; Josh Cassada, pilot; and mission specialists Koichi Wakata, of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Roscosmos will lift off aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. They will be carried atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and launched from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. Currently, liftoff is targeted for no earlier than October 3. As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, Crew-5 marks the sixth human spaceflight mission on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. It is the fifth crew rotation mission to the space station since 2020.

NASA SpaceX Crew-5 Mission Crew Members

Crew members for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station pose at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. From left, are NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, pilot; Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, mission specialist; NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, mission commander; and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, mission specialist. Credit: SpaceX

CEIT allows crew members to become acquainted with the launch-day timeline and experience the Dragon interior in a close-to-flight configuration. As part of the thorough testing regimen, astronauts don their flight suits, perform a suited ingress into the vehicle, conduct suit leak checks, and complete communication checkouts.

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is capable of carrying up to 7 passengers to and from Earth orbit, and beyond. It is currently the only spacecraft flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth, and is the first private spacecraft ever to take humans to the International Space Station.

While inside the vehicle, the crew also listens to the Dragon spacecraft’s fans and pumps. This helps prepare them for the sounds they can expect to hear on launch day. Crew members also take additional time to familiarize themselves with the interior of the Dragon before egressing the vehicle, which marks CEIT’s conclusion.

Already, the crew has also undergone mission-specific training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. This unique 18-month training program featured activities such as studying and participating in extravehicular activities; T-38 jet flying; Russian language; spacesuit training; robotics; spacecraft training; and physical, tool, and science training.

Crew-5 will fly to the ISS in SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance, which previously flew the agency’s Crew-3 mission to and from the orbiting science lab.

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By
Jim Cawley, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

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