Newly arrived Crew 4 astronauts on the International Space Station are ready to begin a six-month stay in space after a smooth SpaceX journey this week.
NASA pilot and astronaut Robert Hines said the journey to space in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, the first mission for him and the Freedom spacecraft, was a “mouth-watering” experience that stood out even after a career as a fighter pilot. The mission launched into space early Wednesday (April 27) and docked less than 16 hours later.
“One of the things we used to say in fighters is down, the faster you go, the faster you’ll go,” Hines, a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, said during the interview. a welcome ceremony on Thursday 28 April.
“It’s quite the opposite,” he said of the launch. “The higher we went, the faster we went…and it was just amazing. [rocket] riding, especially on the second stage, was truly breathtaking. It was awesome.”
Related: Incredible launch photos from SpaceX’s Crew-4 astronaut mission
Crew-4 commander and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren also praised the performance of the new spacecraft. “The Freedom capsule was a really smooth ride, and the Gs were pretty incredible,” he said, referring to the G-forces or forces of Earth’s gravity that astronauts experience during launch.
Along with enjoying the spacecraft, Crew-4 said they enjoyed the views of space from Dragon, which have whetted their appetites over months of observing from the space station.
NASA rookie astronaut Jessica Watkins, the first black woman to fly a long-duration mission, praised the view as the crew arrived at the space station.
“We could see the space station in the distance, but super bright with the solar panels shining towards us,” she said. “The Earth below is absolutely stunning. We’re super excited to be here and see more of these incredible views.”
The multinational Expedition 67 crew now includes three Russians, six Americans, one German astronaut and one Italian astronaut with the arrival of the Crew-4 astronauts. This group of astronauts and cosmonauts will work closely together in the coming weeks to integrate the newcomers into space operations.
Samantha Cristoforetti, a veteran European Space Agency astronaut, thanked her colleagues for their patience as Crew-4 adjusts to life in space.
“They do a lot of work with us as we get our ‘space legs’, so a big thank you for such a wonderful welcome.”