The four astronauts riding a shiny new SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft have shared a brief glimpse of their life in orbit just hours after a picture-perfect launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Crew-3 astronauts — NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, along with European Space Agency’s (ESA) Matthias Maurer — introduced their fifth companion: a sequined plush turtle called “Pfau.” They launched toward the space station late Wednesday (Nov. 10) and will dock at the International Space Station tonight. You can watch that live here at 7:10 p.m. EST (2310 GMT).
Live updates: SpaceX’s Crew-3 astronaut mission for NASA
“Good morning from Dragon Endurance,” Marshburn said in the video. “It’s been a wonderful ride up here, an incredible experience, and we’d like to talk a little bit about our spacecraft and life on board.”
A smooth rocket ride
Marshburn said that Crew-3’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was a smooth ride, with the astronauts able to feel the acceleration of the rocket. “Falcon gave us a wonderful ride,” he said. “Staging was very exciting, with a few moments of zero-g, but was very smooth compared to my other flights.”
He then handed the mic over to Kayla Barron, to introduce the crew’s shiny fifth member, a stuffed turtle plush toy called Pfau. It was the Crew-3 crew’s zero-g indicator to show they reached space.
Barron explained that she and Chari are both part of NASA’s newest class of astronauts — called the turtles — Marshburn was a peacock, and Pfau is German for “peacock,” so it represented everyone.
“We’re really excited to represent our class (the Turtles) in space, so we chose a peacock turtle and named her Pfau,” Barron said.
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“So far we’ve just been hanging out in the cabin,” Barron said of the group’s activities this morning. “Tom is the only veteran, the rest of us are rookies, so we’ve been trying to get our space legs.”
Chari said that so far the crew’s experience in the Crew Dragon has been much like what they experience in the simulator, only in space “it’s much easier to scratch your back”.
“We’ve done a few burns so far to catch up to the ISS,” Chari said of the trip to the space station. “It’s been a great ride, Pfau’s been riding along with us, and enjoying it the whole way.”
Maurer said that one of the things the crew has been doing is working on their photography skills before they get to the space station. He said the crew has been looking out the window at the Earth, snapping pictures and also of each other as they float about the cabin.
The astronauts have been taking pictures of the Dragon’s thrusters as the fire throughout the flight as well as gazing at the moon through the window in the docking hatch.
Eating on the go
One of the things that Marshburn was surprised about is the fact that the Crew-3 astronauts arrived in space with an appetite. He said that his crewmates have been adjusting to weightlessness fairly well and everyone has already shared two meals together.
“One of the most delightful things about being in space is eating,” Marshburn said. “Everybody’s been feeling really good and enjoying eating.”
“We’ve already had two meals which is kind of surprising,” he added.
Marshburn said that so far there haven’t been any disasters in the cabin.
Barron said that at NASA the astronauts have a motto: “Train like you fly” and that their crew was taking that seriously on this flight.
“We’ve spent a lot of our extra time in quarantine this past week eating a lot, so we’re well prepared to come up here and eat some more.”
Marshburn said that astronauts are encouraged to play with their food in space because it helps show what it’s like to live in zero gravity. “We’ve already had some target practice with macadamia nuts and so far I’d say we’ve been fairly successful.”
Crew-3 is expected to dock with the space station at 7:10 p.m. EST (0010 GMT on Friday) tonight (Nov. 11) when they will join fellow NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov of Expedition 66, bringing the total number of occupants of the orbital outpost to seven.
“We have a great view of the moon as we make our way to the space station to visit Mark and the rest of the crew,” Chari said.