Successful coupling, Samantha Cristoforetti with the spacecraft Crew Dragon baptised “Freedom“, in homage to the capsule that in 1961 brought the first American, Alan Shepard, to space altitude, it docked perfectly to the hatch of the ISS, the International Space Station at 1.40 Italian time. Crew-4 took off yesterday from Kennedy Space Center from the Nasa aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
As soon as he hooked up the station, the applause from the Texas center of Houston from Nasa, ESA and Space X personnel rang out loud. It was an orbital chase by the spacecraft of the company of Elon Musk, which lasted about 17 hours. Once aboard the orbiting laboratory, NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins and Kjell Lindgren, along with Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency), will spend almost six months for “Expedition 67-68”: will lead new scientific research in areas such as materials science, health technology and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. Their return is scheduled for mid-September.
Samantha Cristoforetti thus begins her second mission, Minerva .. To welcome her 7 crew members of the Space Station, with Raya Chali, Thomas Mashbirn and Kayla Barrow, all from NASA, Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergei Korsakov, from the space agency Roscosmos from Russia, and the German Mathias Maurer, from ESA.
It was almost like a meeting at the bar between old friends: teaammo of the Crew Dragon spacecrafthas been welcomed with hugs and smiles from the crew which is stationed at the ISS. The first to enter the Space Station was the crew-4 pilot, Bob Hines then it was the turn of Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti and finally the commander Kjell Lindgren entered. Now the orbital station is crowded again, with 11 people on board. Once again there are two Europeans together on the ISS: Cristoforetti and Maurer. The latter will have to leave within days, with colleagues from Crew-3, at the end of a six-month mission. An intense period of work is now beginning for the Italian astronaut, in which he will have to follow many experiments. Among these, six were designed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and concern the effects of the permanence of space on the human organism, such as oxidative stress and the impact of microgravity on the female reproductive system and hearing; Also planned are tests on the impact of microgravity and radiation on the characteristics of Italian extra virgin olive oil and the experimentation of a particle detector. In his mission, which will last about six months, Cristoforetti will assume the role of leader of the American Orbital Segment, which includes the US, European and Canadian modules and components of the Space Station. Finally, there is the possibility that the Italian ESA astronaut could face one of the spacewalks planned to complete the installation of the European robotic arm of the Space Station, but the details of this series of extravehicular activities have not yet been defined.