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Meet the SpaceX Crew-8 astronauts launching to the ISS on March 1

Four new astronauts are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on Friday as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission.

Crew-8, the eighth operational commercial crew mission for NASA, will lift off at 12:04 a.m. EST (0504 GMT) on March 1 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida using the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft, situated atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The Crew Dragon spacecraft will then dock with the orbiting lab the following day around 7 a.m. EST (0200 GMT).

The crew includes NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick (commander), Michael Barratt (pilot) and Jeanette Epps (mission specialist) along with mission specialist Alexander Grebenkin, of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Over the course of their six-month stay in space, the astronauts will conduct more than 200 scientific experiments and technology demonstrations, including research that will support human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.

Related: SpaceX rolls out rocket, capsule for Crew-8 astronaut launch (photos)

Friday’s launch will be the first for all of the crew members but Barrett, who will be making his third flight and second long-duration stay on the space station. You can learn more about each of them below.

Matthew Dominick (NASA)

Matthew Dominick, Crew-8 commander. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Stafford)

Matthew Dominick, Crew-8’s commander, is a 42-year-old U.S. Navy test pilot who joined NASA as an astronaut candidate in 2017. Dominick has more than 1,600 hours of flight time in 28 aircraft, 400 carrier-arrested landings and 61 combat missions on his resume. When Dominick was selected as an astronaut candidate in June 2017, he was at sea on the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) serving in the U.S. Navy as a naval aviator and a department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115.

Dominick was born and raised in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, where his parents still live today. He is married to Faith Dominick, with whom he shares two daughters, according to his biography from NASA. Dominick has a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of San Diego with minors in physics and mathematics. Following his graduation in 2005, he was commissioned through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and attended Primary Flight Training at Naval Air Station Pensacola. He was designated a naval aviator in 2007.

He completed F/A-18 Super Hornet training and then served two deployments with Strike Fighter Squadron 143 (VFA-143) before attending the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where he earned a Master of Science in systems engineering. He later graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and was assigned to Air Test Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23), where he served as the developmental flight test project officer for a variety of carrier suitability test programs. Having completed two years of training as an astronaut candidate in 2019, Dominick is now an active-duty U.S. Navy astronaut. While waiting for his chance to fly in space, he was also promoted to Navy Commander in 2020.

Michael Barratt (NASA)

Michael Barratt, Crew-8 pilot. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Stafford)

Michael Barratt, Crew-8’s pilot, is a 64-year-old physician specializing in aerospace medicine. He served as a flight surgeon for NASA before he was selected as an astronaut candidate in 2000. Barratt has played a pivotal role in developing NASA’s space medicine initiatives for both the Shuttle-Mir Program and the International Space Station (ISS).

Barratt was born in Vancouver, Washington, but considers Camas, Washington, to be his hometown. He has a Doctor of Medicine degree from Northwestern University and is board-certified in both internal and aerospace medicine. He is married to Dr. Michelle Lynne Sasynuik and has five children, according to his official biography.

Barratt has spent a total of 212 days in space across two prior spaceflights, including Expedition 19/20 in 2009 — which saw the transition from three to six permanent ISS crew members — and STS-133 in 2011, near the end of NASA’s Space Shuttle program. Barratt served as Flight Engineer for Expedition 19/20 and performed two spacewalks during this mission. The long-duration flight mission involved crews studying bone loss, cardiac atrophy, immune system changes and nutritional dynamics in microgravity. STS-133, Space Shuttle Discovery’s final mission, delivered the Permanent Multipurpose Module and fourth Express Logistics Carrier to the space station.

Barratt managed the Human Research Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center from January of 2012 through April of 2013 and has provided expertise on human factors and space medical risks for newly developed space vehicles for the Commercial Crew and Artemis Programs.

Jeanette J. Epps (NASA)

Jeanette Epps, Crew-8 mission specialist. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Jeanette Epps, Crew-8’s mission specialist, was selected as an astronaut candidate in 2009. Prior to joining NASA, she worked at Ford Motor Co. and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Hailing from Syracuse, New York, the 53-year-old holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from LeMoyne College and a Master of Science as well as a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park. As a NASA Fellow during graduate school, Epps authored several highly referenced journal and conference articles, according to her NASA biography.

During her time at Ford Motor Company, she received both a provisional patent and a U.S. patent for her research. She later worked as a technical intelligence officer for the CIA. Since becoming an astronaut, she has served on the Generic Joint Operation Panel working on space station crew efficiency, as a crew support astronaut for two expeditions and as lead capsule communicator at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Epps was previously assigned to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, but was reassigned due to delays concerning the mission’s development, making Crew-8 her first spaceflight. During the upcoming mission, she will assist with monitoring the spacecraft for launch and re-entry.

Alexander Grebenkin (Roscosmos)

Alexander Sergeyevich Grebenkin, Crew-8 mission specialist. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Alexander Sergeyevich Grebenkin, Crew-8‘s mission specialist, served in the Air Force of the Russian Armed Forces before joining Roscosmos as a cosmonaut candidate in 2018.

Grebenkin graduated from Irkutsk High Military Aviation School in Irkutsk, Russia, majoring in engineering, maintenance and repair of aircraft radio navigation systems. The 41-year-old also has a degree in radio communications, broadcasting, and television from Moscow Technical University of Communications and Informatics, according to a statement from NASA.

During his time in the Russian Armed Forces, Grebenkin worked as an aircraft readiness technician and engineer to prepare aircraft, later serving as head of the regulations and repair group of a military unit. Since becoming a cosmonaut, he has participated in mock missions on Earth, with Crew-8 representing his first spaceflight. He will serve as flight engineer during Expeditions 70/71 on the space station.

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