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SpaceX’s Crew-9 astronaut launch marks the first time a Space Force Guardian will reach orbit.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague is poised to make history as the first Space Force Guardian to embark on a journey to the International Space Station (ISS). Hague, who has previously flown twice to space with the U.S. Air Force and NASA, has been assigned to the upcoming SpaceX Crew-9 mission, scheduled for launch in August.

The partnership between NASA and the Department of Defense has a rich history, dating back to the early days of the space program. Many of the original U.S. astronauts were drawn from military ranks, highlighting the close relationship between the two organizations. Despite the relatively recent establishment of Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military in 2019, Hague’s transition from the Air Force to Space Force underscores the ongoing integration of military personnel into space exploration efforts.

Hague’s space journey has been marked by significant events, including an aborted launch attempt in 2018 due to a technical issue with the Russian Soyuz rocket. Despite this setback, Hague’s extensive experience as a test pilot and combat veteran equipped him to handle the emergency landing safely. Following corrective measures by Russian engineers, Hague successfully reached the ISS on a subsequent mission, accumulating 203 days in space.

Joining Hague on the Crew-9 mission are cosmonaut Aleksandr Gorbunov of Roscosmos, along with NASA astronauts Zena Cardman and Stephanie Wilson. While Cardman and Gorbunov will be embarking on their first spaceflight, Wilson brings her expertise from three previous orbital missions.

Crew-9 represents the ninth operational mission for SpaceX under NASA’s commercial crew program, highlighting the agency’s reliance on private partnerships for space exploration endeavors. With Crew-8 also on the horizon, NASA continues to pave the way for innovative space missions and scientific discoveries aboard the ISS.

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