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Next space station crew launches from Kennedy Space Center on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, launching on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL. on Oct. 5, 2022. photo via Jared Sanders
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, launching on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL. on Oct. 5, 2022. photo via Jared Sanders

A crew of four is on the way to the International Space Station after launching Wednesday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center.

The mission named Crew-5 will carry NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina.

[caption id="attachment_204290" align="aligncenter" width="743"]

NASA astronauts Josh Cassada, left, and Nicole Mann, second from left, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, second from right, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, right, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen as they prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal prior to the Crew-5 mission launch, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky[/caption]

The four hitched a ride into orbit in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, launching on the company's Falcon 9 rocket. During their time on the orbiting laboratory, the crew will conduct over 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations in areas such as human health and lunar fuel systems.

"We are excited and humbled to be a part of human exploration," said NASA's Nicole Mann, the commander of the mission.  "Thank you to our families for supporting us during this busy time. Let's go Crew-5."

With Wednesday's launch, Mann becomes the first Native American woman to travel to space.

This is the first spaceflight for Mann, Casada and Kikina. Wakata has flown on multiple missions, logging more than 347 days in space.

"We have three first time fliers going to the International Space Station," said NASA's Cassada, the pilot of the mission."What's so great about this is we're doing it for something greater than ourselves."

The crew is slated to dock at the space station 29 hours after launch at 4:57 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 6.

The mission is the fifth operational flight conducted by SpaceX for NASA's Commercial Crew program. The agency pays SpaceX for rides to the station.

So far the private company has launched 30 people into space -- both government and civilian space fliers.

Crew-5 will replace a crew of four which launched to the station back in April. They’ll soon return to Earth in their own Crew Dragon capsule, splashing down off the coast of Florida.

NPR's Russell Lewis contributed to this story. 

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."