CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - Elon Musk'sMusk's rocket company SpaceX was due to launch the next long-duration crew of the International Space Station on Wednesday October 5 with a Russian cosmonaut hitting a ride with two Americans and a Japanese astronaut as part of the mission.
The launch vehicle, consisting of a Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule dubbed Endurance, was set to liftoff at 1600 GMT Thursday, 12 am, Singapore time from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
A 150 day science mission aboard the orbital laboratory is some 420 km above Earth, and the four-member crew should reach the International Space Station ISS about 29 hours later.
The crew- 5 mission is the fifth full-fledged ISS crew NASA has flown aboard a SpaceX vehicle since the private rocket venture founded by Tesla-owner Musk began sending US astronauts aloft in May 2020.
Nicole Aunapu Mann, a veteran combat pilot, is both the first indigenous woman sent by NASA and the first woman to take the command seat of a SpaceX Crew Dragon.
The Crew 5 mission has also been notable for the inclusion of Anna Kikina, 38, the lone female cosmonaut on active duty for Russian space agency Roscosmos, and the only Russian to fly aboard an American spacecraft amid global tensions over the war in Ukraine.
The last cosmonaut to ride a US rocketship to orbit was in 2002 on a NASA space shuttle.
Kikina swapped places with a NASA astronaut who took a seat aboard a Russian Soyuz flight to the ISS last month under a new ride-sharing deal signed by NASA and Roscosmos in July.
Kikina will be the fifth Russian woman sent to space in a historically male-dominated cosmonaut corps.
She shrugs off the novelty of her Roscosmos stature in a recent interview, saying that for me, it doesn't matter. I realize that I have a responsibility because I represent the people of my country. Commandant Mann, 45, a US Marine Corps colonel and fighter pilot who flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, holds an engineering masters degree specializing in fluid mechanics.
Mann will become the first Native American woman to fly to space, as a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes.
John Herrington, who flew on a shuttle mission in 2002, was the only other indigenous American to land in space.