NASA sends next batch of astronauts to ISS

New York, March 3 (IANS): NASA-SpaceX’s next batch of astronauts are enroute to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday.

The Crew-8 mission lifted off at 10:53 p.m. EST Sunday (9.23 am, Monday IST) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It was earlier scheduled to fly on Sunday but was postponed due to unfavourable conditions in the flight path of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, NASA said.

The Crew-8 mission includes NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, as well as Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin. This will be the first space flight for Epps, Dominick and Grebyonkin and the third stint on the ISS for Barratt.

“Liftoff of Crew-8!” SpaceX wrote in a post on X.

“We have liftoff! Three first-time fliers and a veteran are en route to the @Space_Station,” NASA wrote on X.

SpaceX Dragon is expected to start docking at about 3 a.m. on Tuesday (1:30 pm IST). The crew will spend around six months on the orbiting laboratory carrying out over 200 scientific experiments and technology demonstrations, including new research to prepare human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit humanity on Earth.

This is the eighth rotational mission to the space station under NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme. Billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX is part of the astronaut launch services for NASA from 2020.

This will be the fifth mission for the Dragon capsule Endeavour, the most for any SpaceX spacecraft. The vehicle previously carried the company's first manned space flight, Demo-2, to the space station in 2020. It also flew Crew-2, Ax-1, and Crew-6 missions to and from the space station.

Crew-7, currently onboard the ISS, are expected to return to Earth next week.



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