The Crew 8 astronauts – part of the next mission of SpaceX’s human space transportation system – will conduct a host of experiments on the International Space Station

On 3 March, four astronauts headed to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, launched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, US. According to Nasa’s website, the astronauts will conduct new scientific experiments to prepare for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

The team – referred to as Crew-8 – is the eighth crew rotation mission of SpaceX’s human space transportation system and its ninth flight with astronauts. The team includes three men and one woman, namely, Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenki.

Dominick, a US Navy test pilot is the crew commander, and this will mark his first spaceflight. Barratt, a physician, is the mission pilot. The 65-year-old has logged two previous flights to the ISS and two spacewalks. The team is completed by Nasa astronaut Jeanette Epps, an aerospace engineer and former technical intelligence officer for the CIA, and cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, 41, a former military aircraft engineer.

The team will be welcomed aboard the space station by current ISS occupants – three Russians and the four astronauts of Crew 7, two from Nasa, one from Japan and one from Denmark, an AFP report explains. The Crew 7 team will depart the space station for a flight back to Earth about a week after Crew 8’s arrival.

Crew-8 will conduct more than 200 experiments such as using stem cells to create organoid models to study degenerative diseases, studying the effects of microgravity and UV radiation on plants at a cellular level, and testing whether wearing pressure cuffs on the legs could prevent fluid shifts and reduce health problems in astronauts.

“Crew-8’s mission will further the understanding of how humans learn and behave in space and how their bodies respond, and it’s all critical to our lunar exploration. We need all of these to come together to understand how people and technologies and systems will behave when we go on longer duration missions,” Nasa associate administrator Jim Free said in Nasa’s blog post.

The crew will also oversee the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon and the Roscosmos Progress cargo spacecraft. Crew 8 will stay on board the ISS until the end of August.


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