(CTN NEWS) – Representing various nations and space agencies worldwide, four astronauts initiated their journey to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX rocket.
This mission, designated as Crew-7, is projected to extend beyond six months in duration.
The crew is traveling within the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance capsule, launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:27 a.m. ET on Saturday.
Comprising the crew are four astronauts:
NASA’s Jasmin Moghbeli, who assumes the role of mission commander; Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen representing the European Space Agency; Satoshi Furukawa from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); and Russian cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov from Roscosmos.
Upon achieving orbit, the Crew Dragon capsule separated from the Falcon 9 rocket, commencing its independent trajectory through space.
Precision Maneuvers Towards the ISS: Crew-7 Capsule’s 24-Hour Journey
The capsule will meticulously navigate for over 24 hours to rendezvous with the space station, positioned approximately 220 nautical miles (420 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface.
Addressing SpaceX mission control from the Crew Dragon capsule after launch, Moghbeli conveyed, “Space travel is difficult, but you make it look easy.” She continued, “We’re a united team with a common mission. Go Crew-7. Awesome ride.”
The crew is anticipated to dock at the space station around 8:39 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Upon arrival, Moghbeli, Mogensen, Furukawa, and Borisov will join the seven astronauts already stationed on the orbiting laboratory.
During their mission, the Crew-7 astronauts will spend approximately five days transitioning responsibilities from the SpaceX Crew-6 astronauts, who have been on the space station since March.
Crew-7’s Multinational Mission to the ISS
Crew-7 is set to dispatch a quartet of astronauts, each representing a distinct space agency, to the International Space Station (ISS) for an approximate half-year duration.
Their transportation will be facilitated by the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule named Endurance, a vehicle that has already completed two voyages to the orbiting laboratory.
This astronaut ensemble comprises NASA’s astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, designated as the commander of the Endurance;
Andreas Mogensen from Denmark, affiliated with the European Space Agency, who will assume the role of pilot; in addition to Satoshi Furukawa and Konstantin Borisov, hailing from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, respectively.
Furukawa and Borisov are assigned as mission specialists for the Crew-7 mission.
True to its name, Crew-7 marks SpaceX’s seventh functional endeavor to the space station on behalf of NASA. However, it signifies the 11th instance of human space travel orchestrated by Elon Musk’s enterprise.
Among the preceding missions, one still remains attached to the ISS. Crew-6 made its way to the orbital laboratory in early March and is slated for departure approximately five days following the anticipated arrival of Crew-7.
Russian Cosmonaut Joins US Spacecraft Mission Amid Diplomatic Tensions
Borisov marks the third Roscosmos cosmonaut to embark on a journey aboard a US-manufactured spacecraft, as part of an arrangement involving seat exchanges, which was formalized between NASA and Roscosmos in 2022.
The practice of sharing trips to the space station has been a longstanding tradition between NASA and Roscosmos. In fact, Roscosmos served as the primary transportation provider for years after NASA concluded its space shuttle program in 2011.
However, the most recent rideshare agreement took on greater significance in the context of the escalating tensions between the United States and Russia due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Despite these terrestrial tensions, NASA has consistently emphasized that collaborative efforts in space remain unaffected.
Similar to Moghbeli, Borisov is embarking on his inaugural spaceflight.
“I’m filled with great excitement and a profound sense of honor to be a part of this international crew,” he expressed on Sunday.
“Veteran astronauts and cosmonauts often share that, when gazing upon the Earth from the ISS, the absence of borders becomes evident. I aspire to convey that sentiment and emotion.”
Presently, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Russia’s Soyuz stand as the sole vehicles with the capability to transport astronauts to and from the space station. However, NASA has ambitions to introduce another provider in the near future.
Boeing’s Starliner, operating within NASA’s commercial crew contracting program similar to SpaceX, is poised to become operational within the upcoming year following several years of delays.
Copenhagen Native Joins Crew-7: Mogensen’s Journey from Research Fellow to Space Mission
Mogensen, the designated Crew-7 mission pilot, hails from Copenhagen and secured his bachelor’s degree from the Copenhagen International School.
He furthered his education with a master’s in aeronautical engineering from Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, and later accomplished a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.
Prior to his selection for astronaut training by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2009, Mogensen served as a research fellow at the Surrey Space Centre in the UK. His research there delved into navigation and control systems for spacecraft during lunar landings.
This mission constitutes his second foray into space, building on his earlier experience from a 10-day Russian Soyuz mission to the space station in 2015.
Reflecting on his experiences, Mogensen shared his sentiments during a news conference on Sunday, saying, “Attempting to capture the magnificence of the International Space Station in words is a challenge.
It truly struck me shortly before my first mission’s docking when I looked out of the windows… and witnessed the immense solar arrays stretching into space right beside me.”
“It dawned on me the exceptional and extraordinary laboratory that we, as humanity, have constructed in low-Earth orbit over the past two to two and a half decades.”
Furukawa, the lone astronaut among Crew-7 with prior spaceflight experience, was born in Kanagawa, Japan, just south of Tokyo.
He achieved a medical degree and a doctorate in medical science from the University of Tokyo before embarking on a career as a clinical surgeon.
In 1999, he was chosen as an astronaut by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and in 2011, he completed his inaugural space mission — a 165-day tenure — at the space station. This mission involved his launch on NASA’s final space shuttle mission, STS-135.
Furukawa expressed his anticipation for reacquainting himself with the microgravity environment aboard the space station.
He aspires to delve into scientific investigations, including studies that could contribute to the development of new medical advancements and projects that could offer insights into potential lunar exploration by humans in the future.
Upon reaching the space station, the Crew-7 astronauts will bid farewell to the Crew-6 astronauts from SpaceX, who will return to Earth via their spacecraft, the Crew Dragon Endeavour, in the upcoming days.
In the middle of September, the space station’s crew will welcome NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara alongside cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub. This trio is set to launch aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-24 capsule.
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