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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye
ICT

11:45 p.m. Eastern Time

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 is finally on board the International Space Station.

Dragon commander Nicole Mann was the first of the crew to float through the hatch with a big smile. Once again, she is breaking the glass ceiling to be the first Indigenous woman to live and stay on the space station.

All crew members gave hugs all around and held huge smiles on their faces. There are now 11 crew members on board.

During the welcome ceremony, Mann gave a shout out to her family.

“It’s incredible to be in space! Mom, look! I’m finally in space,” Mann said with the crew laughing after. “It’s been such a pleasure training with this amazing crew and we’re looking forward to getting to work here on Expedition 68. We’ve had a chance to thank a lot of people in the past day and a half or so that we’ve been flying. But I don’t know if I had a chance to thank my husband and son. Thank you, guys, so much. I love you. And mom and dad, and my sister Kirsten, thank you!” And blew a kiss to them.

6 p.m. Eastern Time

NASA’s SpaceX Dragon Endurance successfully docked on the International Space Station at 5:01 p.m. EDT Thursday while flying 258 miles above the west coast of Africa.

NASA Astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann guided the flight and docking to the space station with ease. She could be heard on the NASA live stream talking with the control room in Hawthorne, California.

The docking made Mann, Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, the first Indigenous woman aboard the International Space Station. It is the 45 year old’s first space flight.

“Crew-5 is happy to have finally arrived at the International Space Station and Endurance is a very proper name for our training mission,” Mann said after docking the space station. “Giving NASA and the SpaceX teams a huge thank you. Especially shoutout to our training lead Tyler Carr for all the simulations you put us through and the training. We were definitely well-prepared and we are looking forward to getting to work."

NASA astronaut and mission commander Nicole Mann, Wailacki of Round Valley Indian Tribes, on the left before docking the International Space Station on October 6, 2022. (Screengrab, NASA)

Next steps for the crew is leak checks and pressurization to prep for the hatch opening. Hatching has to take place on both ends, the space station and spacecraft, which takes a couple of hours.

Crew-5 and Crew-4 on the International Space Station brings the total to 11 people on board. Crew-4 will hopefully return to Earth next week, NASA says.

A welcome ceremony for Crew-5 is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. EDT. 

1 p.m. Eastern Time

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There were two victories Wednesday for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission: a successful lift off from the Kennedy Space Center and into orbit, and sending the first Indigenous woman into space, mission commander Nicole Aunapu Mann.

The next challenge is docking the International Space Station Thursday. Dragon, the spacecraft the crew is on, is scheduled to dock the orbital laboratory at 4:57 p.m. EDT. A welcome ceremony for the crew is set for 8:15 p.m. EDT. Viewers can watch it live on NASA’s app or YouTube or below. 

Mann and three other astronauts — pilot Josh Cassada, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina — will be on the space station for six months conducting scientific research around cardiovascular health, bioprinting, and fluid behavior in microgravity.

“During their stay aboard the International Space Station, Crew-5 will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations, including studies on printing human organs in space and better understanding heart disease,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a news release. “While our eyes are focused upward on the heavens, let us never forget these missions will also better life here on Earth.”

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Crew-5 will join Crew-4 on the space station, increasing the total of 11 people on the space station. Crew-4 returns to Earth a few days later.

The Crew-5 mission is part of the larger Artemis mission to send astronauts to the moon in 2025 after more than 50 years of the last moon landing. Mann is in the running to be the first woman to land on the lunar surface.

This is Mann’s first spaceflight since becoming an astronaut in 2013. She is 45 years old and from Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in California.

John Herrington, who is Chickasaw, made history as the first Native American into space 20 years ago and logged three spacewalks. 

Timeline

Thursday, Oct. 6 (Eastern Time)

4:57 p.m. — Docking to the International Space Station

6:42 p.m. — Hatch Opening

8:15 p.m. — Welcome Ceremony

Celebrating

Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous folks were elated Wednesday for Mann’s history-making day and made it known on social media. 

This is a developing story.

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