The new Crew-3 crew has arrived aboard the International Space Station

There was no handover, but the relief has arrived. The SpaceX capsule carrying a new crew, Crew-3, docked Thursday evening, November 11, at the International Space Station (ISS), to replace Crew-2, which left the ISS on Monday, which included the French Thomas Pesquet. The four newly arrived members – three Americans, including a woman, and a German – will carry out a six-month mission in orbit.

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NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, as well as European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer were launched from Florida by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday evening a takeoff several times postponed, especially because of the weather.

For the American Tom Marshburn, this is the third sojourn in space. He already flew aboard a space shuttle in 2009, then a Soyuz rocket in 2012-2013. The other three astronauts, including the head of the mission Raja Chari, on the other hand made the trip for the first time. Matthias Maurer is the twelfth German to end up in orbit.

They were greeted by American Mark Vande Hei, who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday, alone in the US segment of the station. Two Russian cosmonauts are also on board.

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Many experiences

Astronaut Tom Marshburn pins the official NASA badge on Kayla Barron's outfit after Crew-3 arrives in the ISS on November 11, 2021.

The mission is called Crew-3 because it is the third operational to the ISS provided by SpaceX on behalf of NASA. But this is actually the fifth time that Elon Musk’s company has launched humans into orbit: before Crew-1 and Crew-2, a test mission (Demo-2) had sent two astronauts to the ISS. . And in September, SpaceX also launched four tourists for three days in space, independently of NASA.

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The mission will include many experiences. One is to grow plants in space without soil or other growing medium, and another is to build microgravity optical fibers that could be of higher quality than those made on earth. Crew-3 astronauts will also carry out spacewalks, in particular to continue installing new solar panels on the ISS.

Finally, they will host two tourist missions: Japanese people brought by a Russian Soyuz spacecraft at the end of the year, then in February 2022 passengers from the Ax-1 mission, organized by the company Axiom Space in partnership with SpaceX.

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The World with AFP