NASA has announced its eighth astronaut crew with SpaceX.
The Crew-8 astronauts who will launch on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will include NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick (commander), Michael Barratt (pilot), and Jeanette Epps (mission specialist), along with Roscosmos cosmonaut and mission specialist Alexander Grebenkin.
The quartet will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2024, NASA officials stated on Aug. 4. A previous NASA statement put the launch date no earlier than Feb. 2024. They will be the relief crew for Crew-7, which will send another foursome to space no earlier than Aug. 25.
Three of the Crew-8 astronauts are on their first mission, while this will be Barratt's third trip following flights in 2009 (ISS Expeditions 19-20) and 2011 (the space shuttle's STS-133).
Crew-8 will be the eighth crewed operational mission by SpaceX, which is a commercial crew vendor that sends astronauts to the ISS on NASA's behalf.
Epps will be the second Black woman to have a long-duration mission on the ISS, following the mission of Jessica Watkins in 2022. Epps was pulled late in the training from another ISS crew that flew in 2018, but was immediately made eligible for other assignments.
Starliner will be the second commercial crew vehicle for NASA and might be ready to fly astronauts in 2023, but a major update on the spacecraft is expected Monday (Aug. 7) and a new flight date may be announced at that time.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace