NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8: Meet the Astronauts and Mission to ISS

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NASA's SpaceX Crew-8
NASA's SpaceX Crew-8

NASA recently revealed its selected crew members for the highly anticipated SpaceX Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The diverse team of astronauts and cosmonauts includes three first-time space flyers and one experienced NASA astronaut. Scheduled for an early 2024 launch, this mission will mark the eighth crewed operational journey by SpaceX, the commercial crew vendor collaborating with NASA to transport astronauts to the ISS.

Meet the Crew-8 Astronauts:

Commander Matthew Dominick:

Matthew Dominick, a Colorado native, joined NASA’s Astronaut Candidate Class in 2017. With a background in Electrical Engineering and Systems Engineering, he’s logged over 1,600 flight hours in 28 aircraft, completing 400 carrier-arrested landings and 61 combat missions. Born in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, Dominick, a U.S. Naval Aviator, started his military journey in 2005 through ROTC. He returned to operational naval squadron duties in Japan in 2016 before being selected as an Astronaut Candidate in June 2017.

Currently in training for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission, Dominick will serve as the mission commander. He holds various awards, including the 2015 Naval Test Wing Atlantic Test Pilot of the Year. Active in professional organizations, he is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, the Society of Flight Test Engineers, and the Tailhook Association. With a remarkable background in aviation, he is well-prepared to lead the Crew-8 mission.

Pilot Michael Barratt:

Dr. Michael R. Barratt, selected by NASA in 2000, is a board-certified Internal and Aerospace Medicine specialist. He served as Flight Engineer for Expedition 19/20, completing two spacewalks, and on STS-133. Born in Vancouver, Washington, on April 16, 1959, Dr. Barratt is married to Michelle Lynne Sasynuik, and they have five children.

His education includes a Bachelor of Science in Zoology, a Doctor of Medicine from Northwestern University, and certifications in Internal and Aerospace Medicine. Dr. Barratt joined NASA in 1991, contributing to medical systems for Space Station Freedom. Selected as a mission specialist in 2000, he reported for training, later assuming technical duties in the Astronaut Office Station Operations Branch.

Managing the Human Research Program from 2012 to 2013, Dr. Barratt focused on health risks in spaceflight. His spaceflight experience includes Expedition 19/20 and STS-133, accumulating 212 days in space. Currently training for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission in 2024, he will serve as the pilot. Awards include the Hubertus Strughold Award in 2011.

Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps:

Jeanette J. Epps, a NASA astronaut since 2009, is an accomplished scientist and space explorer. Born in Syracuse, New York, she completed rigorous astronaut training, showcasing her skills in spacewalks, T-38 flight, and more. Dr. Epps holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from LeMoyne College and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.

As a NASA Fellow during her graduate years, Dr. Epps authored impactful research articles. She also worked at Ford Motor Company, earning a U.S. patent. With over seven years at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), she garnered multiple performance awards.

Selected in 2009 as part of NASA’s astronaut class, Dr. Epps continued to excel. She is currently training for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station, where she will serve as a mission specialist. Her accolades include the NASA GSRP Fellowship, Exceptional Performance Award, and induction into the University of Maryland’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni. In 2016, LeMoyne College awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Dr. Epps is also a member of AIAA and the Society for Science & the Public.

Mission Specialist Alexander Grebenkin:

Russia’s Alexander Grebenkin will join Crew-8 as a mission specialist, adding a valuable international dimension to the team. Grebenkin graduated from Irkutsk High Military Aviation School with a major in engineering, maintenance, and repair of aircraft radio navigation systems. He furthered his education at Moscow Technical University of Communications and Informatics, earning a degree in radio communications, broadcasting, and television. This mission marks Grebenkin’s first journey into space, adding to the excitement of Crew-8’s international collaboration.

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Crew-8’s Mission to the ISS:

The Crew-8 astronauts are scheduled to join Expedition 70 and 71 members aboard the ISS in early 2024. Their mission encompasses a wide-ranging set of operational and research activities during their stay. The team’s preparation and training ensure they are well-equipped to tackle the challenges of life in space and contribute to the ongoing scientific exploration on the ISS.

A Historic Mission for Jeanette Epps:

Jeanette Epps’ participation in the Crew-8 mission represents a significant milestone in space exploration. She will become the second Black woman to undertake a long-duration stay on the ISS, following in the footsteps of Jessica Watkins in 2022. Despite facing reassignment from a previous ISS crew in 2018, Epps’ journey exemplifies the resilience and determination of astronauts to fulfill their mission objectives.

The Significance of SpaceX Crewed Missions:

SpaceX’s involvement in crewed missions plays a vital role in advancing human space exploration. As a commercial crew vendor, SpaceX collaborates with NASA to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the ISS. The success of Crew-8 is a testament to the close partnership between NASA and commercial companies, which has opened new possibilities for space missions.

Continuing the Legacy of ISS:

For more than 22 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the ISS, making significant scientific advancements and demonstrating new technologies. The ISS serves as a critical testbed for NASA to understand the challenges of long-duration spaceflight, which is essential for future deep space missions to the Moon and Mars.

Conclusion:

The announcement of NASA SpaceX Crew-8 astronauts for the SpaceX mission to the ISS marks a monumental step in space exploration. Led by Commander Matthew Dominick and comprising an exceptional team of astronauts and cosmonauts, NASA SpaceX Crew-8 is poised to embark on a historic journey to the ISS. With their diverse backgrounds and expertise, they will contribute to the ongoing research and advancements that continue to push the boundaries of human knowledge in space. As NASA and its partners pave the way for future space missions, NASA SpaceX Crew-8 stands as a shining example of human ingenuity and determination to explore the cosmos.

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