Navy commander leads latest NASA space station mission

by Tommy Grant

A Navy test pilot is leading the next set of astronauts to the International Space Station on NASA’s Crew-8 mission, which successfully launched late Sunday night after a few weather delays.

Cmdr. Matthew Dominick is serving as the commander of the expedition to the orbital laboratory. Liftoff occurred at 10:53 p.m. local time from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, according to a NASA release.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft Endeavour, propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket, was initially slated to launch on Friday, but the mission was rescheduled twice due to unfavorable weather conditions.

Dominick and his crew — fellow NASA astronauts Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps as well as cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin — docked at the station on Tuesday.

The cadre are the latest commercial crew rotation to blast off to the space station as NASA also makes galactic steps for future long-duration trips to the moon and beyond through its Artemis missions.

“Aboard the station, the crew will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations to help fuel this new era of space exploration and benefit humanity here on Earth,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in the release.

While this marks Dominick’s first space flight, he’s no stranger to soaring on challenging missions.

He’s accumulated more than 1,600 flight hours in 28 aircraft models and has 400 carrier landings, 61 combat missions and nearly 200 flight test carrier landings, according to his NASA bio.

Dominick commissioned through ROTC following graduation from the University of San Diego in 2005 and reported to Pensacola, Florida, for flight training.

After completing his initial training, he made two deployments, flying close air support missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

He went on to earn a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School and also graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

The Colorado native was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2017 while serving at sea on the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan as a naval aviator and a department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115. During his time aboard the space station, he will serve as a mission specialist.

The next team of astronauts planning to head to the space station on the upcoming Crew-9 mission will arrive there no earlier than August, according to a NASA release.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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