After taking off from Florida on the evening of 10 November, Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer joined Expedition 66 of the ISS the next day. This is ESA astronaut, Matthias Maurer’s first mission.
Thomas Pesquet and Matthias Maurer, both astronauts of the European Space Agency (ESA), should have met up there aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for a few days. But delays (weather then a minor health problem) to take-off of the Crew-3 to the station led to the French astronaut returning with his Crew-2 colleagues on 8 November off the coast of Florida (local time).
Barely two days later, then, Crew-3’s crew left the Kennedy Space Center for Earth orbit. This flight with a new Crew Dragon capsule, known as Endurance is operated by the private company SpaceX for NASA as part of a commercial contract. At the controls of the capsule, was a rookie, Raja Chari of the US Air Force, selected by NASA in 2017. His pilot was Thomas Marshburn, engineer and doctor who is on his third space flight. The other two crew members are also rookies, namely, Kayla Barron of NASA and Matthias Maurer of the ESA. Their take-off took place at 21.03 on 10 November, local time in Florida. Below, the live recording (NASA TV and SpaceX).
Take-off takes place at 4:16:20 in the video (normally, when you click, it plays from that point).
EXPEDITION 66 AND COSMIC KISS
The journey to the ISS lasted a little less than 24 hours since SpaceX’s Endurance capsule docked with the orbital complex on 11 November at 18.32 Florida time (23.32 hours in Universal Time, the ISS’s reference time).
Below, the complete arrival with approach, docking, the entrance of the four from Crew-3 (at 2:28:15) and the formal welcome ceremony (at 3:01:35).
Crew-3’s four astronauts joined their three colleagues already up there, namely, the American Mark Vande Hei and the Russians, Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov, the latter being the commander of Expedition 66. So, the ISS again has seven crew members.
Note at 3:07:51, the intervention of Josef Aschbacher, the Director-General of the ESA, congratulating Matthias Maurer on his first mission and saluting his companions on the ISS. In reply, Maurer indicated that just before he had been able to see the Earth from the Cupola observation station which gave him an “incredible view” of it. Emphasising the science carried out aboard the station, he also said he was “very happy to continue what Thomas began.” Thus, the French astronaut’s Alpha mission passes the baton to Matthias Maurer’s Cosmic Kiss. After six months, it will be the turn of Italian astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti to represent the ESA up there on a mission called Minerva.
Below, the Cosmic Kiss presentation video.
Image title Credit: SpaceX/NASA TV/Cité de l’espace