An American astronaut, a Danish, a Japanese and a Russian cosmonaut are scheduled to launch overnight to the International Space Station from Thursday to Friday, the seventh regular rotation crew mission SpaceX is operating for NASA.
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Launch is scheduled for Friday at 3:50 a.m. local time (7:50 a.m. GMT) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a Falcon 9 rocket belonging to billionaire Elon Musk’s company. The weather promises 90% favorable weather, however, in the event of a disability, a spare window is possible on Saturday.
Powered by the rocket, the Dragon capsule, in which the four passengers will travel, has to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) after a journey of around one day. The crew then stays on board this flying laboratory for about six months and carries out numerous scientific experiments there.
The mission, dubbed Crew-7, will be led by American astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, 40, who will make her first trip into space.
“What I look forward to the most is looking at our planet from above,” the Iranian-born MIT graduate said at a news conference last month. “Everyone I spoke to who had ever flown said it was a life changing perspective.”
European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andreas Mogensen and Japan Space Agency (Jaxa) Satoshi Furukawa have both been to the ISS before – albeit initially for just ten days.
It will also be the first flight for Russia’s Konstantin Borisov, who said he is looking forward to “this adventure” after “very intense training”.
Despite heightened diplomatic tensions between Washington and Moscow since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, cooperation between the American and Russian space agencies on the ISS continues – one of the few areas of cooperation between the two countries that still exists.
The passenger exchange program aboard rockets from both countries has also been maintained: two other Russian cosmonauts have already traveled on SpaceX as part of the Crew 5 and Crew 6 missions.
American astronauts have also recently flown on Soyuz spacecraft, and the next Russian mission with an American is scheduled for September.
This weekend, the crew of Crew-7 will join the seven passengers already aboard the ISS, which has been permanently manned for more than 20 years.
After a few days of handover with the Crew 6 crew (two Americans, one Russian and one Emirati) it will return to Earth aboard another SpaceX capsule.
This is the seventh regular mission to the ISS that SpaceX is conducting on behalf of NASA, not counting a test mission with two astronauts.
In addition, NASA has signed a contract with Boeing to develop a second American means of transport to the ISS. But Boeing’s program has suffered countless delays, and the first manned test flight is now not scheduled until after March 2024.