E Point Perfect

SpaceX Days Away from History-Making Astronaut Launch with Californian


Nicole Aunapu Mann
NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in Northern California, will become the first Native American woman to fly into space. REUTERS/Mike Blake

After a slight delay prompted by Hurricane Ian, Southern California-based SpaceX will attempt to make more aerospace history Wednesday, when it is set to launch another set of astronauts to the International Space Station.

The Crew-5 mission — conducted under SpaceX’s flight contract with NASA — is scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 9 a.m. California time Wednesday. The launch had been set for Monday but was pushed back by two days due to the hurricane.

The four-member crew will be propelled into orbit by a new Falcon 9 rocket, which will launch the Crew Dragon spacecraft on its flight to the space station. The Crew Dragon capsule has been to the station before, having flown members of the Crew-3 mission into orbit in November 2021.

SpaceX is known for reusing equipment to dramatically cut costs of spaceflight. But the Falcon 9 rocket being used Wednesday will be making its maiden voyage. SpaceX will attempt to recover the first stage of the rocket for future use by landing it on a barge named “Just Read the Instructions” floating in the Atlantic Ocean.

According to SpaceX, the crew members will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations during their five months aboard the space station.

But the crew will make history before they even arrive at the station.

Among the four crew members will be Anna Yurievna Kikina, who will become the first Russian cosmonaut to fly on a SpaceX mission into orbit. It will be her first space flight.

Also aboard the Crew Dragon capsule will be NASA astronaut Nicole A. Mann, who will become the first Native American woman to fly into space. A Marine Corps colonel and California native, Mann is a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, according to NASA.

Rounding out the crew will be NASA astronaut Josh A. Cassada and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.


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