NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts aboard the Dragon spacecraft safely splashed down Friday off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, completing the agency’s fourth commercial crew mission to the International Space Station. The international crew of four spent 170 days in orbit.
SpaceX Crew-4 was the Crew Dragon’s fourth NASA Commercial Crew operational flight, and its seventh overall crewed orbital flight. The mission launched on 27 April 2022 at 07:52 UTC before docking with the International Space Station ( ISS ) at 23:37 UTC. It follows shortly after the private Axiom 1 mission to the ISS earlier in the month utilizing SpaceX hardware. Three American ( NASA ) astronauts and one European ( ESA ) astronaut are onboard the mission.
Crew-4 was the maiden flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft named Freedom, named such by the crew because it “celebrates a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit”. The booster used on this mission was the B1067, which makes it the first Commercial Crew mission to use a booster on its fourth flight ( it previously was used to launch SpaceX Crew-3 in 2021 ).
- Kjell N. Lindgren
- Robert Hines
- Samantha Cristoforetti
- Jessica Watkins
Throughout their mission, the Crew-4 astronauts contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities and technology demonstrations. Cristoforetti completed two spacewalks with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev to perform station maintenance and upgrades.
Crew-4 continued work on investigations documenting how improvements to the space diet affect immune function and the gut microbiome, determining the effect of fuel temperature on the flammability of a material, exploring possible adverse effects on astronaut hearing from equipment noise and microgravity, and studying whether additives increase or decrease the stability of emulsions. The astronauts also investigated microgravity-induced changes in the human immune system similar to aging, tested a novel water-reclamation membrane, and examined a concrete alternative made with a material found in lunar and Martian dust.