Successful Start to NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission

Image (Credit): October 5, 2022 departure of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the ISS. (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Earlier today, SpaceX Crew-5 successfully departed from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on their way to the International Space Station (ISS). The four members on this flight are NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina. The population of the ISS will increase to 11 until 3 astronauts return to Earth a few days later.

Here is NASA’s bio on the new crew members:

  • As commander, Mann is responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry, and will serve as an Expedition 68 flight engineer. This will be her first spaceflight since becoming an astronaut in 2013. Mann was born in Petaluma, California, and will be the first indigenous woman from NASA in space. She is a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, and she served as a test pilot in the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet.
  • Cassada is the spacecraft pilot and second in command for the mission. He is responsible for spacecraft systems and performance. Aboard the station, he will serve as an Expedition 68 flight engineer. This will be his first flight since his selection as an astronaut in 2013. Cassada grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and is a physicist and U.S. Navy test pilot.
  • Wakata will be making his fifth trip to space and as a mission specialist he will work closely with the commander and pilot to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. Once aboard the station, he will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 68. With Crew-5’s launch, Dragon will be the third different type of spacecraft Wakata has flown to space.
  • Kikina will be making her first trip to space, and will serve as a mission specialist, working to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. She will be a flight engineer for Expedition 68.

Space Stories: JWST, a Galaxy Catalog, and a Stellar Graveyard

Image (Credit): JWST image of the Tarantula Nebula, which is about 160,000 light-years away. (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)

Here are some recent stories of interest. “‘Bit of Panic’: Astronomers Forced to Rethink Early Webb Telescope Findings

Astronomers have been so keen to use the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that some have got a little ahead of themselves. Many started analysing Webb data right after the first batch was released, on 14 July, and quickly posted their results on preprint servers — but are now having to revise them. The telescope’s detectors had not been calibrated thoroughly when the first data were made available, and that fact slipped past some astronomers in their excitement. “‘Astronomers Map Distances to 56,000 Galaxies, Largest-ever Catalog

How old is our universe, and what is its size? A team of researchers led by University of Hawaii at Manoa astronomers Brent Tully and Ehsan Kourkchi from the Institute for Astronomy have assembled the largest-ever compilation of high-precision galaxy distances, called Cosmicflows-4. Using eight different methods, they measured the distances to a whopping 56,000 galaxies. The study has been published in the Astrophysical Journal.

University of Sydney: “Milky Way’s Graveyard of Dead Stars Found

The first map of the ‘galactic underworld’ – a chart of the corpses of once massive suns that have since collapsed into black holes and neutron stars – has revealed a graveyard that stretches three times the height of the Milky Way, and that almost a third of the objects have been flung out from the galaxy altogether.