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Meet the astronauts of SpaceX's Crew-4 mission for NASA

The astronauts of SpaceX's Crew-4 mission for NASA, from left: NASA's Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency. They're backdropped by their SpaceX Dragon capsule, which they named "Freedom."
The astronauts of SpaceX's Crew-4 mission for NASA, from left: NASA's Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency. They're backdropped by their SpaceX Dragon capsule, which they named "Freedom."-4 commander Kjell Lindgren (at right) with pilot Bob Hines, flanked by crewmates Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti and backdropped by their Crew Dragon "Freedom." (Image credit: SpaceX)

Three NASA astronauts and one from the European Space Agency (ESA) will soon head to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Crew-4 mission, which SpaceX is conducting for NASA.

The crew is scheduled to launch no earlier than April 27 at 3:52 a.m. EDT (0752 GMT) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You can follow the launch live here at Space.com, or directly via NASA or SpaceX.

The four astronauts include two spaceflight veterans and two rookies, who are slated to spend about six months on the International Space Station performing 200 experiments. Here is who is launching into space.

Live updates: SpaceX's Crew-4 astronaut mission for NASA

Crew-4 astronauts Jessica Watkins, Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Samantha Cristoforetti during a pre-launch test.

Crew-4 astronauts Jessica Watkins, Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines and Samantha Cristoforetti during a pre-launch test. (Image credit: NASA)

Kjell Lindgren (commander, NASA): Lindgren previously flew on ISS Expedition 44/45 in 2015, logging 141 days in space, his official NASA biography (opens in new tab) states. On that mission, he participated in two spacewalks. Lindgren, who is certified in emergency medicine, used to be a crew surgeon for NASA, notably serving as deputy crew surgeon for the space shuttle mission STS-130 and the long-duration mission Expedition 24 (both in 2010). Lindgren was selected as an astronaut in 2009.

Bob Hines (pilot, NASA): Crew-4 will be the first space mission for Hines. He was selected as an astronaut in 2017 following 21 years of service in the United States Air Force as an instructor pilot, fighter pilot and a test pilot, his official NASA biography (opens in new tab) states. Just before he was selected as an astronaut, he was working as a research pilot at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. He has more than 3,500 hours of flight time in 50 different types of aircraft and has flown 76 combat missions in three different aircraft types.

From the left: NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins, Kjell Lindgren, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA astronaut Robert Hines after their arrival in Florida on April 18, 2022 ahead of their Crew-4 launch.

From the left: NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins, Kjell Lindgren, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA astronaut Robert Hines after their arrival in Florida on April 18, 2022 ahead of their Crew-4 launch. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Jessica Watkins (mission specialist, NASA): Crew-4 will be Watkins' first space mission and the first extended mission for a Black woman in space. (Another Black astronaut, Jeanette Epps, was poised to se that record before she was pulled from an ISS mission in 2018.) Watkins was selected in 2017 following previous work at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, her official NASA biography (opens in new tab) states. Watkins, a geologist whose graduate work studied Mars landslides, also was a science team collaborator for NASA's Curiosity rover mission on the Red Planet.

Samantha Cristoforetti (mission specialist, ESA): Cristoforetti spent 200 days in space between November 2014 and June 2015 as a flight engineer for Expedition 42/43, according to her official ESA biography (opens in new tab). She was selected as an astronaut in 2009; among other ground duties, she served as a crew representative for ESA for NASA's future Gateway moon-orbiting space station. Her previous career was as a pilot for the Italian Air Force; as of 2014, she had logged more than 500 hours flying "many" types of aircraft, an ESA page from her first mission states (opens in new tab).

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Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.