After a delay caused by Hurricane Ian – and after being stuck in preflight isolation in Houston, Texas, for several days – the international team of space travelers in the upcoming Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station finally arrived at Kennedy Space Center early Saturday afternoon (October 1, 2022). The astronauts are now scheduled to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 tipped with the Crew Dragon Expedition on Wednesday, October 5.
NASA described their quick trip to KSC:
NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, commander; Josh Cassada, pilot; and mission specialists Koichi Wakata, of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina arrived at the Launch and Landing Facility at approximately 12:15 p.m. EDT Saturday, October 1, after departing Ellington Field near the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
It’ll be the 5th flight to space for Koichi Wakata, and a first trip up for the other three.
Liftoff at noon Wednesday
The launch is targeted for noon EDT, Wednesday, October 5, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance, is scheduled to dock to the space station at 4:57 p.m. EDT Thursday, October 6. Crew arrival, launch, the post-launch news conference, and mission coverage through docking will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. NASA also will host an audio only prelaunch news teleconference.
The mission will carry the last of the Expedition 67 crew to the ISS. Cosmonaut Kikina will fly with Crew-5 as part of a seat exchange with Roscosmos that already saw NASA astronaut Frank Rubio head to the ISS aboard a Soyuz in September. The exchange is an effort by the ISS partner nations to smooth international relations as Russia makes war on neighboring Ukraine.
Launches: Crew-5 crew and purpose
While not officially declared an attempt at diplomacy, this launch represents an attempt to ease tensions between Russia and the four other ISS partners, which sprang up following to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The news agency Reuters reported this statement from the Russians:
The agreement is in the interests of Russia and the United States and will promote the development of cooperation within the framework of the ISS program.
The group will be busy once in orbit with the hundreds of experiments they’ll monitor at the ISS. According to NASA:
Experiments will include studies on printing human organs in space, understanding fuel systems operating on the moon and better understanding heart disease. These are just some of the more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations that will take place during their mission.
The newest residents of the ISS will join three others who recently arrived via a Soyuz launch from Russia last week. Crew-5 will stay at the station for six months if all goes as planned.
A mission of unity, diversity
Crew-5 also represents the first time a Native American – Nicole Mann – will command the ISS. She offered remarks on the significance of the mission after the crew’s arrival at KSC:
I am very proud to represent Native Americans and my heritage. I think it’s important to celebrate our diversity and also realize how important it is when we collaborate and unite, the incredible accomplishments that we can have.
Bottom line: The Crew-5 mission team arrived at Kennedy Space Center on October 1, 2022, in anticipation of liftoff to the International Space Station on October 5.