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Next SpaceX NASA crew launch adds rookie astronaut Jessica Watkins

A portrait of NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins.
A portrait of NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The roster for SpaceX's next NASA launch to the International Space Station is complete.

NASA announced on Tuesday (Nov. 16) that it would add rookie astronaut Jessica Watkins to the mission, which is dubbed Crew-4. Watkins will join NASA colleagues Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Crew-4 is currently targeting an April 2022 launch for a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.

SpaceX will launch Watkins and her Crew-4 crewmate to the space station on a Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. 

Video: Meet Jessica Watkins — NASA Artemis astronaut

The agency accepted Watkins, a geologist, to its astronaut training corps in 2017. In addition to her geology background, Watkins brings experience working on the Curiosity Mars rover's science planning, analyzing near-Earth asteroids, serving as an analog astronaut, and living and working under water as part of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO, according to her NASA biography.

Crew-4 is NASA's next scheduled launch with SpaceX to the International Space Station and will take over for the recently arrived members of Crew-3: NASA astronauts Raja Chauri, Kayla Barron and Tom Marshburn, plus ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer. The quartet arrived at the orbiting laboratory on Thursday (Nov. 11), about a day after their launch from Florida.

Watkins, Chauri and Barron are all members of NASA's newest astronaut class, nicknamed the Turtles; they are also the first of the class to be assigned to flight crews. Watkins is also among the 18 astronauts that NASA selected to join its "Artemis Team" who will be candidates to join the first missions to the moon since the Apollo program a half century ago.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Meghan Bartels

Meghan is a senior writer at Space.com and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined Space.com in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.