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Wed, Mar 06, 2024

Crew 8 Starts A LONG Trip To The ISS

Successful Falcon Launch Powers NASA Crew Rotation

NASA's commercial crew rotation mission went smoothly for the 8th go-around, sending off a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket bearing astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps, and Alexander Grebenkin.

The international crew (Well, technically international with a 3-NASA, 1-Roscosmos split) reached orbit aboard the automated SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The particular Dragon unit, named Endeavour, will stick with the International Space Station for a time before coming back with the Crew-7 members aboard. Until then, the ISS will be a bit crowded, with 11 people aboard.

Crew-8 is commanded by Dominick, and is his first spaceflight since selection for astronaut training in 2017. He'll continue to serve as a mission specialist while aboard Expedition 70 and 71. Epps and Grebenkin are similarly on his first space voyage, with the latter acting as flight engineer on Expeditions 70 and 71. Barratt was the ‘pilot’ of the Crew-8 mission, though the excitement of manual piloting has been done away with on the Dragon series - Endeavor is content to autonomously operate itself throughout the journey, with stern oversight from mission control back in Hawthorne, California. Even  so, Barratt is ready should anything happen, with a long history of space ops under his belt. He was flight engineer on Expeditions 19 and 20 in 2009, spacewalking twice. He later flew aboard the shuttle Discovery on STS-133. He’ll serve his time now as a mission specialist along with Epps, continuing to log space time on top of his 212 hours from previous missions.

“Congratulations to NASA and SpaceX on another successful launch to the International Space Station! On this eighth crew rotation mission, we are once again showing the strength of our commercial partnerships and American ingenuity that will propel us further in the cosmos,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Aboard the station, the crew will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations to help fuel this new era of space exploration and benefit humanity here on Earth.”



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