NASA crew nears ISS for scientific research

The Endeavour spacecraft is orbiting around the planet after a successful NASA launch over the weekend. Its four-strong crew is due to dock at the International Space Station (ISS) tomorrow and conduct scientific experiments to boost future exploration and improve medical treatments on Earth.

The Crew-8 mission, which is NASA’s eighth in tandem with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, launched from Florida at 10:53 p.m. EST Sunday.

NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, along with Roscosmos’ Alexander Grebenkin, will help to research science that could help future space exploration.

Some of the experiments could also benefit humanity on Earth. For example, research into brain parts in low-gravity environments could help to treat neurodegenerative disorders.

Others noted by NASA include studies into how bodily fluids shift during space travel and the effects of ultraviolet radiation on plant growth.

The Endeavour, a Dragon model spacecraft built by SpaceX and propelled by its Falcon 9 rocket, will dock autonomously at the ISS’s Harmony module about 3 a.m. on March 5th.

NASA spokesperson Bill Nelson offered his congratulations on the success of the latest mission.

“On this eighth crew rotation mission, we are once again showing the strength of our commercial partnerships and American ingenuity that will propel us further in the cosmos,” he said.

The crew will join the ISS’s existing complement of seven astronauts from NASA, Roscosmos, the Japanese space agency JAXA, and its European counterpart, the ESA.

“Aboard the station, the crew will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations to help fuel this new era of space exploration and benefit humanity here on Earth.”

During the flight, SpaceX will monitor automatic spacecraft maneuvers from its mission control center in Hawthorne, California. Meanwhile, NASA teams will monitor space station operations throughout the flight at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA says it will provide live coverage of the rendezvous, docking, and hatch opening, beginning at 1 a.m. on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and its website.

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