The newly arrived Crew-4 astronauts on the International Space Station are ready to begin a six-month stay in space after a smooth SpaceX trip this week.
Pilot and NASA astronaut Robert Hines said the ride to space in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, the debut mission for both him and the Freedom spacecraft, was an “eye-watering” experience that stood out even after a career flying fighter jets. 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 low, the faster you go, the faster you’ll get,” Hines, a United States Air Force fighter pilot, said during a welcome ceremony Thursday (April 28).
“This is just the opposite,” he said of the launch. “The higher we got, the faster we went … and it was just incredible. That [rocket] ride, especially on the second stage was just really eye-watering. It was awesome.”
Related: Amazing launch photos of SpaceX’s Crew-4 astronaut mission
Crew-4 commander and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren praised the performance of the new spacecraft, too. “The Freedom capsule was a really smooth ride, and the Gs were pretty amazing,” he said, referring to the G-forces or forces of Earth’s gravity that astronauts experience during launch.
Alongside enjoying the spacecraft, Crew-4 said they have been enjoying the views of space from Dragon, which are whetting their appetite for several months of observation from the space station.
Rookie NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, the first Black woman to do a long-duration mission, praised the view as the crew was arriving at the space station.
“We could see the space station kind of off in the distance, but super bright with the solar arrays shining towards us,” she said. “The Earth below is just absolutely gorgeous. We’re super excited to be here and to see more of those amazing views.”
The multinational Expedition 67 crew now includes three Russians, six Americans, and one German astronaut and one Italian astronaut with the arrival of the Crew-4 astronauts. This group of astronauts and cosmonauts will be working together closely in the coming weeks to integrate the new arrivals into space operations.
Samantha Cristoforetti, a veteran European Space Agency astronaut, thanked her colleagues for their patience as Crew-4 adjusts to space living.
“They’re getting a lot of work done with us, as we are getting our ‘space legs’, so a heartfelt thank you for this wonderful welcome.”