Meet the astronauts of NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station

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NASA's SpaceX Crew-5, the next long-duration astronaut mission to the International Space Station, is expected to launch no earlier than 12:00 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Oct. 5, with a backup date on Friday, Oct. 7.

Four crewmembers from three international space agencies will embark on a roughly six-month-long mission to the orbital outpost. They will launch aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endurance capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

Crew-5 is SpaceX's sixth crewed mission for NASA's Commercial Crew Program and the eighth crewed mission overall for SpaceX.

From left are JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, mission specialist; NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, mission commander; Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, mission specialist; and NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, pilot. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are scheduled to lift off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A. This will be the fifth crew rotation mission of SpaceX’s human transportation system and its sixth flight with astronauts to the space station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
From left are JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, mission specialist; NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, mission commander; Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, mission specialist; and NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, pilot. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are scheduled to lift off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A. This will be the fifth crew rotation mission of SpaceX’s human transportation system and its sixth flight with astronauts to the space station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Meet the crew members

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada are joined by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's astronaut Koichi Wakata, and cosmonaut  Anna Kikina, from Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

The science mission is a first-time trip to space for Mann, Cassada, and Kikina and the fifth trip for Wakata.

It is the first time a Russian cosmonaut will fly aboard a SpaceX mission as part of a crew-swap agreement between NASA and Roscosmos. The other part of the agreement was fulfilled on September 21 when NASA astronaut Frank Rubio launched aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule with two Russian cosmonauts.

NASA's Joel Montalbano, manager of the International Space Station program, told reporters on Monday, Sept. 26, Kikina's flight is one-third of the currently planned crew-swap agreements. NASA will send another astronaut to the ISS on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2023 and another Russian cosmonaut can be expected to fly with SpaceX in 2024. 

He told reporters that NASA has had "excellent support from Roscosmos during this last launch campaign. And we expect it to continue."

Before being assigned to SpaceX's Crew-5 mission, Mann and Cassada were originally set to fly to space aboard Boeing's Starliner capsule before that program suffered delays.

NASA said in a statement  that, "it was important to make these reassignments to allow Boeing time to complete the development of Starliner while continuing plans for astronauts to gain spaceflight experience for the future needs of the agency’s missions."

NASA Astronaut: Nicole Mann, Crew-5 Commander

NASA Astronaut Nicole Mann poses for a portrait before her launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission.
NASA Astronaut Nicole Mann poses for a portrait before her launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission.

Mann is from Petaluma, California, and is married with one son. She is a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a test pilot in the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet.

A Naval Academy graduate, Mann was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2013. Before that, she served in the U.S. Marine Corps, earned her wings of gold as a Naval Aviator in 2003, and attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. She has accumulated more than 2,500 flight hours in 25 types of aircraft. She deployed twice aboard aircraft carriers in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mann will be the first Native American woman to travel to space.

She will serve as the Crew-5 mission Commander, the first time a woman will fill that role. During a pre-mission briefing, she said, "I think it's important that young girls realize that they have these leadership opportunities for them. But from an operational perspective, to be honest, it really doesn't matter if you're a woman or a man or what country you're from or your gender or your race."

NASA Astronaut: Josh Cassada, Crew-5 Pilot

NASA Astronaut Josh Cassada poses for a portrait before his launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission.
NASA Astronaut Josh Cassada poses for a portrait before his launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission.

Cassada is the Crew-5 Pilot and is from San Diego, California, He is married with two children. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Rochester and also serves as a U.S. Navy test pilot.

He was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2013. Before that he graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 2006 and accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours in over 40 different aircraft, as well as 23 combat missions.

During a pre-mission briefing, Cassada said that he has packed a variety of movies from the 1980s to watch while aboard the station and is looking forward to working with "the cold atom lab — a really interesting fundamental physics experiment in which we can see quantum mechanics at a macroscopic scale."

He also said that he is looking forward to enjoying some Detroit-style pizza as one of his last meals before he takes off for space.

JAXA Astronaut: Koichi Wakata, Crew-5 Mission Specialist

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's astronaut Koichi Wakata is from Saitama, Japan. He is married with one child. He holds a doctorate in aerospace engineering and serves as the Senior Advisor and Astronaut for JAXA.

He was selected as an astronaut by the National Space Development Agency of Japan, now JAXA, in 1992. The SpaceX Crew-5 mission will be Wakata's fifth spaceflight on which he will serve as a Mission Specialist.

He previously flew aboard the space shuttle three times and once on a Russian Soyuz mission. He holds the record for the most time spent in space by a Japanese person with a total of 347 days, eight hours, and 33 minutes as of May 2014.

SpaceX Crew-5 Mission Specialist Koichi Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) poses for a portrait in his Crew Dragon flight suit at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX Crew-5 Mission Specialist Koichi Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) poses for a portrait in his Crew Dragon flight suit at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

When asked about flying aboard Crew Dragon after flying many times on the space shuttle during a pre-mission briefing, he said, "it's a very different spacecraft. Very sophisticated, very automated and it's a very reliable system. And so I think I have to listen to the commander and pilot and work with Anna. Communication is the key."

As for what he will do during his off time aboard the station he said, "I'm not an artist or anything but I did bring some origami paper. I hope I can make something in orbit and fly that in the Japanese module."

Roscosmos Cosmonaut: Anna Kikina, Crew-5 Mission Specialist

Crew-5's second Mission Specialist, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina is from Novosibirsk, Russia. She is an engineer and test cosmonaut.

Kikina spoke via a translator at a pre-mission briefing in which she said that she was 27 years old in 2012 when Roscosmos cosmonaut selection "was open to everyone equally, even myself." Currently, she is the only woman cosmonaut in active service with Roscosmos.

SpaceX Crew-5 Mission Specialist Anna Kikina from Roscosmos poses for a portrait in her Crew Dragon flight suit at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX Crew-5 Mission Specialist Anna Kikina from Roscosmos poses for a portrait in her Crew Dragon flight suit at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Crew-5 will be her first spaceflight. During the briefing, she said that she expects to primarily work alongside her cosmonaut colleagues in the Russian segment of the space station, but expects to collaborate with the astronauts of the other segments during a spacewalk and with controlling the station's robotic arm that is used to capture some visiting spacecraft.

She has also brought with her a tiny hand-made figurine toy of a young cartoon character boy called "Gorodovichok" with orange hair that will represent her hometown in Russia.

Visit floridatoday.com/space for real-time updates and live video on launch day.

For the latest, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.

Jamie Groh is a space reporter for Florida Today. You can contact her at JGroh@floridatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AlteredJamie.

Wednesday, October 5: SpaceX Crew-5

  • Company / Agency: SpaceX for NASA

  • Rocket: Falcon 9

  • Location: Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center

  • Launch Time: 12:00 p.m. EDT

  • Trajectory: Northeast

  • Weather: 90% "go"

  • Live coverage: Visit floridatoday.com/space for real-time updates and live video on launch day.

  • About: SpaceX will launch the fifth operational mission under contract by NASA to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station known as Crew-5. Astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan's Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina will travel to the ISS for a six-month science mission.

Nicole Mann

  • NASA Astronaut: Selected in 2013

  • Mission Designation: Crew-5 Commander

  • From: Petaluma, California 

  • Experience: Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and test pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours

Josh Cassada

  • NASA Astronaut: Selected in 2013

  • Mission Designation: Crew-5 Pilot

  • From: San Diego, California

  • Experience: U.S. Navy test pilot with more than 4,000 flight hours 

Koichi Wakata

  • JAXA Astronaut: Selected in 1992

  • Mission Designation: Crew-5 Mission Specialist

  • From: Saitama, Japan  

  • Experience: 347 days in space on four spaceflights

Anna Kikina

  • Roscosmos Cosmonaut: Selected in 2012

  • Mission Designation: Crew-5 Mission Specialist

  • From: Novosibirsk, Russia

  • Experience: Russian engineer and test cosmonaut

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 will fly astronauts from NASA, Japan, and Russia