NASA recently announced the four astronauts who will embark on a six-month stay to the International Space Station (ISS) for the SpaceX Crew-8 mission and consists of Commander Matthew Dominick (United States), Pilot Michael Barratt (United States), Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps (United States), and Mission Specialist Alexander Grebenkin (Russia). This diverse crew ranges in experience from first-time spaceflights to multiple stays on the ISS and is currently scheduled for launch sometime in the first quarter of 2024 with an estimated return time of the third quarter of that same year.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 Crew Portrait (left to right): Mission Specialist Alexander Grebenkin (Russia), Pilot Michael Barratt (United States), Commander Matthew Dominick (United States), and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps (United States). (Credit: NASA)
Commander Dominick was selected in NASA Astronaut Group 22 in June 2017, and this will mark his first time in space. Born on December 7, 1981, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, Dominick earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of San Diego in 2005 as a member of the Navy ROTC and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. After serving as a pilot of the VFA-143 during two deployments for Operation Enduring Freedom, he was selected for the United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) / Naval Postgraduate School co-operative program where he earned a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He has logged more than 1,600 hours in 28 different aircraft, 61 combat missions, close to 200 flight test carrier landings, and 400 carrier-arrested landings.
SpaceX Crew-8 Commander Matthew Dominick. (Credit: NASA/Bill Stafford)
Pilot Barratt was selected in NASA Astronaut Group 18 in July 2000, and this will mark his third time to the ISS, the previous two missions being via Soyuz TMA-14 and STS-133. Born on April 16, 1959, in Vancouver, Washington, Barratt earned a Bachelor of Science in zoology from the University of Washington in 1981 and his M.D. from Northwestern University in 1985. Along with several years of residency, Barratt earned a Master of Science in aerospace medicine via a joint program between Wright State University, NASA, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He holds a private pilot’s license, qualified on the NASA T-38 aircraft, and is also board certified in Internal and Aerospace Medicine.
SpaceX Crew-8 Pilot Michael Barratt (Credit: NASA)
Mission Specialist Epps was selected in NASA Astronaut Group 20 in August 2009, and this will mark her first time in space. Born on November 3, 1970, in Syracuse, New York, Epps earned a Bachelor of Science in physics from Le Moyne College followed by a Master of Science and PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. After earning her PhD, Epps worked for the Ford Motor Company than with the Central Intelligence Agency, the latter of which she stayed for seven years and included two deployments to Iraq. Upon her selection as a NASA Astronaut, Epps completed extensive training in Russian, spacewalk and robotics, and geology, and was an aquanaut for the NEEMO 18 undersea exploration mission in 2014. In 2019, Epps completed the European Space Agency CAVES program, making her only the second woman to participate in CAVES after fellow NASA Astronaut, Jessica Meir. During her time at NASA, Epps has also served as Mission Control CAPCOM, and is currently serving in the ISS Operations Branch. Her flight to the ISS makes her the second black woman to participate on a long-duration mission to the ISS.
SpaceX Crew-8 Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps (Credit: NASA)
Mission Specialist Grebenkin graduated from Irkutsk High Military Aviation School, Irkutsk, Russia, where he majored in aircraft radio navigation systems, specifically engineering, maintenance, and repair, and like Commander Dominick and Mission Specialist Epps, this marks his first mission to space. His additional academic accolades include a degree in radio communications, broadcasting, and television from the Moscow Technical University of Communications and Informatics.
Crew-8 will launch onboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and marks the eighth six-month, rotational mission to the ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which continues the longstanding partnership between NASA and the private sector in sending humans to space from American soil.
As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!