NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins to be the fourth crew member of Crew-4

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins will be the fourth member of the next manned mission that, aboard a SpaceX company ship, will travel to the International Space Station (ISS), the US aerospace agency reported on Tuesday.

Watkins will join NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines, as well as Samantha Cristoforetti, from the European space agency ESA, who will make up the Crew-4 mission that is scheduled to take off in April 2022 from the Kennedy Space Center in Cabo. Cañaveral, in Florida (USA).

For Watkins, who graduated as an astronaut in 2017, the ISS mission will mark her first time in space, according to NASA.

The Crew-4 mission, which will spend six months in the orbital laboratory, will take over from the Crew-3, which last week aboard SpaceX’s Endurance spacecraft arrived safely at the ISS with three NASA astronauts and one from ESA, for also a six-month science mission.

The capsule was docked to the ISS about 21 1/2 hours after taking off attached to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center.

A woman, Kayla Barron, from NASA, and three men, Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, from the US agency, and the German Matthias Maurer, from ESA, traveled aboard the spacecraft. The latter, according to NASA, is the 600th person to have traveled to space so far.

The Crew-3 mission is, as its name suggests, the third manned mission to arrive on the ISS with astronauts from NASA and other space agencies on SpaceX spacecraft and from the United States.

Before, there was a test mission, also manned, in 2020.

On Monday night of last week, the four crew members of Crew-2 returned to Earth after a six-month mission on the ISS.