International Crew On Its Way to ISS

International Crew On Its Way to ISS

Four people of four different nationalities are on their way to the International Space Station following an early morning liftoff from Kennedy Space Center. For the first time, a NASA-led crew includes just one U.S. astronaut. The other three are from ISS partner countries Denmark, Japan and Russia.

Crew-7 is aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endurance and headed for a docking at ISS tomorrow, August 27, at 8:37 am EDT. They were supposed to launch yesterday, but SpaceX and NASA wanted one more day to reconfirm the environmental control and life support system had the required operational margin. A sensor issue during today’s countdown fortunately did not derail the launch.

During a post-launch press conference, SpaceX’s Benji Reed explained that after the Crew Access Arm retracted, a sensor indicated there might be a very small nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) leak from the service section, one-quarter of a part per million. Calculations showed that if in fact there was a leak, it was within acceptable margins so the countdown proceeded.

The four crew members are Commander Jasmin Moghbeli (NASA), Pilot Andreas Mogensen (ESA/Denmark), Mission Specialist Satoshi Furukawa (JAXA) and Mission Specialist Konstantin Borisov (Roscosmos). This is the first spaceflight for Moghbeli and Borisov and the second for Mogensen and Furukawa.

Crew-7 (L-R): Konstantin Borisov (Roscosmos), Andreas Mogensen (ESA/Denmark),  Jasmin Moghbeli (NASA), and Satoshi Furukawa (JAXA).  PHOTOGRAPHER: Bill Stafford and Robert Markowitz


By tradition, crews take along a “zero gravity indicator” that floats once they are in weightlessness, usually a small toy selected by their children.  Crew-7’s is a three-toed sloth, a favorite of Mogensen’s children who saw one in the wild in Costa Rica.  ESA tweeted a video of the stuffed animal, Sasha the Sloth, floating in space.

The mission is designated Crew-7 because it is SpaceX’s seventh operational crewed mission to the ISS for NASA, but it also launched a test flight in 2020, Demo-2, so is the eighth overall for NASA.

SpaceX also has launched three private astronaut missions: Axiom-1 and Axiom-2 visited the ISS in 2022 and 2023 respectively; Inspiration4 in 2021 spent 3 days in Earth orbit but did not dock at the ISS. That makes this SpaceX’s 11th crewed spaceflight in 3 years.

Crew Dragon was developed through a Public-Private Partnership between SpaceX and NASA where both pay for development and SpaceX retains ownership of the system, selling services to NASA and other customers to close the business case. NASA paid $2.6 billion for development and agreed to purchase at least six launches, but that number has grown to 14. The total contract value including all those launches is just under $5 billion.

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