Update: SpaceX on Thursday delivered a new crew to the International Space Station for a five-month stay, the AP reports. That includes Marine Col. Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman to travel to space; Anna Kikina, the first Russian cosmonaut to hitch a ride to space from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in two decades; Navy Capt. Josh Cassada; and Japan’s Koichi Wakata, who is on his sixth space mission. Our original story from Thursday follows:
NASA astronaut Nicole Mann made history Wednesday when she blasted off in a SpaceX Falcon bound for the International Space Station. Marine Col. Nicole Mann, a member of Wailacki tribe of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, is the first Native American woman to travel to space. She told the BBC that she hopes the mission "will inspire young Native American children to follow their dreams and realize that some of those barriers that are there or used to be there are being broken down." "Anytime we are able to do something that is a first, or wasn't done in the past, it's so important," said Mann, who completed astronaut training in 2015. "They have these opportunities."
Mann, the mission commander, told NPR that the personal items she is taking to space include a dream catcher her mother gave her a long time ago. The spacecraft also carried Navy Capt. Josh Cassada, the Japan Space Agency’s Koichi Wakata, and cosmonaut Anna Kikina, the first Russian to rocket to space from the US in more than 20 years, the AP reports. Despite tensions over the war in Ukraine, the US and Russia agreed this summer to trade seats on space flights. NASA’s Frank Rubio flew to the ISS last month from Kazakhstan on a Soyuz rocket.
The flight is due to arrive at the ISS Thursday, where the four will remain for the next six months. This is the first trip to space for three of the four, and the fifth for Wakata. "Awesome!" Mann radioed after liftoff. “That was a smooth ride uphill. You’ve got three rookies who are pretty happy to be floating in space right now." The first Native American in space was NASA astronaut John Herrington of the Chickasaw Nation, who traveled to the ISS in 2002. (Read more NASA stories.)