'All-international' Crew-7 launch on SpaceX's 'Endurance' to station
August 26, 2023
— A crew of four astronauts from four countries — a rare occurrence in the history of spaceflight — are now on their way to the International Space Station having launched together on a U.S. commercial spacecraft.
Led by commander Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA, pilot Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) and mission specialists Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Konstantin Borisov of Russia's space corporation Roscosmos lifted off aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft "Endurance" as members of the Crew-7 mission at 3:27 a.m. EDT (0727 GMT) on Saturday (Aug. 26).
The capsule, flying atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, was launched from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The astronauts are on track to arrive at the space station at 8:39 a.m. EDT (1239 GMT) Sunday.
Update: Endurance docked to Harmony at 9:16 a.m. EDT (1316 GMT).
Once Endurance docks to the space-facing port of the Harmony node and hatches are opened, Moghbeli, Mogensen, Furukawa and Borisov will join the station's 69th expedition led by Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev as commander. The crew will temporarily grow to 11 members, including Frank Rubio, Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg of NASA, UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi and Roscosmos cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Andrey Fedyaev.
Bowen, Hoburg, AlNeyadi and Fedyaev are scheduled to return to Earth aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon "Endeavour" on Sept. 2, weather permitting. Russia's Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft will then arrive on Sept. 15 with Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub, together with NASA astronaut Loral O'Hara.
Expedition 70 will begin aboard the space station with the Sept. 27 undocking of Soyuz MS-23, bringing Prokopyev and Petelin home after six months and Rubio after a U.S.-record-setting 371 days.
Moghbeli, Mogensen, Furukawa and Borisov are planned to stay for six months through February 2024. During their time on orbit, they will take part in hundreds of science investigations, help maintain the space station and oversee the arrival of visiting vehicles, including possibly Japan's first HTV-X, an upgraded version of the country's H-II cargo transfer vehicle.
Prior to Crew-7, only the 2001 NASA space shuttle mission STS-100 included crew members wearing the flags of four nations (the U.S., Canada, Italy and Russia). Other shuttle flights, though, tied or even exceeded that number, if dual-citizenship is considered (STS-84 in 1997 had five countries represented given the inclusion of a British-American and Peruvian-American, in addition to American, French and Russian crewmates).
"It's one of the things I think we're most proud of, is what we represent by being an all-international group," said Moghbeli in a press conference previewing the Crew-7 mission in July. "It's something that is very special and important to each of us, to represent what we can do when we work together in harmony."
"One lesson that we've learned through the international partnership is how important that cooperation has been, and how much we can actually achieve together when we work together," Mogensen said during the same briefing.
Moghbeli, 40, was born in West Germany to parents who fled Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and subsequently emigrated to the United States. She is a member of "The Turtles," NASA's 22nd group of astronauts selected in 2017. A helicopter test pilot in the Marine Corps, Crew-7 is Moghbeli's first spaceflight.
Mogensen, 46, became the first person from Denmark to fly into space on his first mission, Soyuz TMA-18M, in 2015. With this launch, he has become the first ESA astronaut (and first non-American) to pilot a U.S. commercial crew spacecraft. An engineer, Mogensen will also serve as commander of the station's Expedition 70 crew, becoming the sixth European to fulfill the role.
Mogensen's science mission for ESA on this flight is named "Huginn," after one of the two ravens which served as helper spirits to the god Odin in Norse mythology. In Old Norse, "Huginn" means "thought."
Furukawa, 59, is on his second flight to the International Space Station, having earlier served on Expeditions 28 and 29 as a Soyuz TMA-02M crew member in 2011. A medical doctor who also holds a doctorate in philosophy, Furukawa was chosen with Japan's 1999 astronaut class.
Borisov, 39, is new to space. A member of Roscosmos' cosmonaut corps since 2018, he is the third Russian to fly on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as part of a seat-swap agreement between NASA and Roscosmos.
Crew-7 is SpaceX's seventh crew rotation for NASA, eighth crewed spaceflight in support of the U.S. space agency and 11th human spaceflight in the company's history. Crew-7 marks the third flight of the Dragon Endurance, which earlier flew Crew-3 and Crew-5 to and from the space station.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Crew Dragon "Endurance" and Crew-7 astronauts from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
Crew-7 astronauts Konstantin Borisov, Andreas Mogensen, Jasmin Moghbeli and Satoshi Furukaw walk out from the Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
NASA, SpaceX, ESA (European Space Agency) and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) mission insignia representing the Crew-7 launch to the space station. (NASA/SpaceX/ESA/JAXA)
Crew-7 astronauts on SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endurance: Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa. (SpaceX)