WATCH: Expedition 70 Welcomes SpaceX Crew-8, Quickly Gets to Work

ABOVE VIDEO: NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 reaches International Space Station

(NASA) – 11 crew members now reside aboard the International Space Station following the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-8 mission early Tuesday morning.

The four new Crew-8 members will spend the next few days getting used to life on orbit as four Expedition 70 crewmates pack up for their return to Earth.

The SpaceX Dragon “Endeavour“ spacecraft docked to the forward port of orbital outpost’s Harmony module at 2:28 a.m. EST on Tuesday. About an hour-and-a-half later, Crew-8 Commander Matthew Dominick, Pilot Mike Barratt, and Mission Specialists Jeanette Epps and Alexander Grebenkin opened Dragon’s hatch and entered Harmony officially becoming station flight engineers.

Soon after, the new quartet, with the Expedition 70 septet, called down to Earth for welcome remarks.

Afterward, the entire crew quickly got to work first conducting a safety briefing, then unpacking new science and supplies, conducting health checks, and more. The crewmates transferred Dragon freezers containing research samples and installed them into science racks throughout the station. Tuesday’s health studies included testing the inner-ear balance system, conducting eye scans with an ultrasound device, and evaluating a specialized suit’s ability to help a crew member readjust to Earth’s gravity.

The foursome will live aboard the space station for a six-month space research mission. They will take advantage of the microgravity environment to explore the mechanisms behind neurodegenerative disorders, how spaceflight affects plant growth to sustain crews, countering space-caused fluid shifts that create head and eye pressure in astronauts, and the potential for algae to improve spacecraft life support systems.

While Crew-8 gets up to speed with space station systems, four Expedition 70 crewmates are nearing their departure after a six-and-a-half-month mission on orbit. NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli will lead Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency), Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Konstantin Borisov of Roscosmos back to Earth inside the SpaceX Dragon “Endurance” spacecraft. The homebound quartet has been aboard the station since Aug. 27, 2023, and is expected to undock from Harmony’s space-facing port no earlier than Monday, March 11.

The station’s other three crewmates, NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara and cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub, have been aboard the station since Sept. 15, when they docked to the Rassvet module inside the Soyuz MS-24 crew ship. O’Hara is due to return to Earth in April while Kononenko and Chub will stay in space for a few more months.

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