Launch and docking of the Ekipazh-8 spacecraft to the ISS.

SpaceX’s second crewed mission in 2024 is already underway. At 03:54 UTC on March 4, the Crew-8 mission lifted off aboard the C206 Endeavouquinto spacecraft using a Falcon 9 Block 5 from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Ramp 39A. The launch, SpaceX’s 20th this year, was also the fifth for the Endeavor capsule and the first for the B1083 stage, which landed shortly after takeoff at pad LZ-1 at Cape Canaveral. This was the 279th successful landing on the first stage and the 205th successful landing in a row. The Crew-8 crew consists of four crew members: Matthew Dominic (commander), Michael Barratt (pilot), Jeanette Epps (mission specialist) and Alexander Grebionkin (Roscosmos, mission specialist). Between these four people, SpaceX has now launched 50 people into space on a total of 13 crewed missions (12 of them to the ISS).

Launch of Crew-8 (SpaceX).

The mission’s only veteran is pilot Michael Reed Barratt, 64, on his third spaceflight after Soyuz TMA-14 (2009) and STS-133 Discovery (2011). As we see, Barratt returns to space 13 years after his last flight. Barratt, a physician by profession, worked at the Johnson Space Center as a NASA physician in charge of astronaut health. In 2000, he was selected as a NASA astronaut as part of the space agency’s 18th Group. Commander Matthew Stewart Dominic (42) was a US Navy F/A-18 pilot and holds the rank of Commander, US Navy. In 2017, NASA selected him to join the 22nd astronaut group. Alexander Sergeevich Grebionkin (Alexander Sergeevich Grebyonkin, 41 years old) is the fourth Russian cosmonaut to fly aboard the American spacecraft Crew Dragon. He worked as an engineer for the Swifts aerobatic team of the Russian Air Force, in which he rose to the rank of major. In 2018, he was selected as a Roscosmos cosmonaut candidate, and two years later he completed his training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.

Grebionkin, Barratt, Dominic and Epps (NASA).
Emblem of Crew-8 (NASA).
Road to space (SpaceX).

Jeanette Jo Epps, 53, was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009 as part of Team 20, but has yet to fly into space. An aerospace engineer by training, she worked for the CIA for seven years and served in Iraq. In 2017, she was chosen to travel to the ISS on the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. In January 2018, she was removed from the mission without public explanation and her place was taken by Serena Auñon-Chancellor (paradoxically, Serena would later be accused by Roscosmos of drilling holes in the Soyuz in orbit after a romantic breakup with a crewmate, accusations that were never adequate demonstrated). In 2020, Epps was assigned to the Starliner’s first operational flight, but she will also be pulled from that flight, this time due to a delay with the Boeing ship. In August 2023, it was announced that Epps would be part of the Crew-8 mission.

Transfer to the ramp (SpaceX).
Signatures of astronauts who flew on Crew Dragon in the capsule access room (NASA).
The crew inspects their rocket and ship on the ramp (NASA).

Crew-8 docked to the ISS 28 hours after the launch of the Harmony module into the forward port, at 08:00 UTC on March 5. After 50 minutes, the hatches opened and four Crew 8 astronauts entered the interior of the ISS to become members of Expedition 70 along with Jasmine Moghbeli, Loral O’Hara, Andreas Mogensen (ESA), Satoshi Furukawa (JAXA), Konstantin Borisov, Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub. The first four will return to Earth on March 11 aboard the Crew-7 Endurance capsule moored at Harmony Port. On March 21, Soyuz MS-25 will take off with Oleg Novitsky, Tracy Dyson and Marina Vsilievskaya, the first Belarusian cosmonaut, and on April 22 it will be the turn of Starliner Calypso, which will carry out its first manned flight with Sunita Williams and Barry Wilmore.

Epps, Barrett, Dominck and Grebionkin at the ship’s access point in late February (SpaceX).
Rocket on ramp (SpaceX).
Static ignition of the first stage (SpaceX).
First stage landing (SpaceX)-
Endeavor docked with the ISS (NASA).
Current configuration of the ISS (NASA).
The crew of Crew-8 along with the rest of Expedition 70 (NASA).

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