SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts delighted with ‘thrilling’ ride to space station

Newly arrived Crew-4 astronauts at the International Space Station are ready to begin their six-month stay in space after a smooth SpaceX flight this week.

NASA pilot and astronaut Robert Hines said flying into space on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, the debut mission for both him and the Freedom spacecraft, was an “exciting” experience that stood out even after a career as a fighter pilot. The mission launched into space early Wednesday morning (April 27) and docked less than 16 hours later.

“One of the things we used to say about fighter jets is low, the faster you go, the faster you get there,” Hines, a US Air Force fighter pilot, said during a welcome ceremony on Thursday (April 28).

“It’s just the opposite,” he said of the launch. “The higher we climbed, the faster we went… and it was just incredible. [rocket] ride, especially in the second stage was just really mesmerizing. It was amazing.”

Related: Amazing SpaceX Crew-4 Astronaut Mission Launch Photos

European astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti arrives at the International Space Station with her fellow Crew-4. (Image credit: ESA)

Crew-4 Commander and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren also praised the performance of the new spacecraft. “The Freedom capsule went very smoothly and the g-forces were pretty amazing,” he said, referring to the g-forces or gravity that astronauts experience during launch.

Along with enjoying the spaceship, Crew 4 said they enjoy the views of space from the Dragon, which whet their appetite for months of observation from the space station.

Rookie NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, the first black woman to fly a long-duration mission, praised the view as the team arrived at the space station.

“We could see the space station somewhere in the distance, but it was very bright with solar panels shining in our direction,” she said. “The ground below is just gorgeous. We are thrilled to be here and see more of these amazing views.”

With the arrival of Crew-4 astronauts, the multinational Expedition 67 crew now includes three Russians, six Americans, as well as one German and one Italian astronaut. This group of astronauts and cosmonauts will work closely in the coming weeks to integrate newcomers into space operations.

Samantha Cristoforetti, a veteran European Space Agency astronaut, thanked her colleagues for their patience as Crew 4 adjusts to life in space.

“They have done a great job with us as we get our space legs, so we sincerely thank you for this wonderful welcome.”

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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