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Watch as University of Cambridge alumna Kayla Barron docks at International Space Station on SpaceX Crew-3 mission



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University of Cambridge graduate Kayla Barron is among four astronauts docking at the International Space Station.

Kayla, who achieved a master’s degree in nuclear engineering Cambridge, is with fellow NASA astronaut Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maure.

Lifting off from Launch Pad 39A on a Falcon 9 rocket, the trip on board the SpaceX Crew-3 Dragon took more than 21 hours. They were accelerated to approximately 17,500mph.

Their science mission will last six months conducting science and maintenance on the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth in spring 2022.

NASA astronaut Kayla Barron the Blue Flight Control Room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Picture: NASA/Bill Ingalls (43985744)
NASA astronaut Kayla Barron the Blue Flight Control Room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Picture: NASA/Bill Ingalls (43985744)

This is the third crew rotation mission with astronauts on the SpaceX Crew-3 Dragon spacecraft and the fourth flight with astronauts as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Three of the four, including Kayla, are on their first spaceflight.

NASA astronaut candidate Kayla Barron is seen after donning her spacesuit, Friday, July 12, 2019 at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Picture: NASA/Bill Ingalls
NASA astronaut candidate Kayla Barron is seen after donning her spacesuit, Friday, July 12, 2019 at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Picture: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Kayla is a mission specialist, who is tasked with working closely with the commander and the pilot to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases. Aboard the space station, she will act as a flight engineer for Expedition 66.

The crew will conduct research in areas such as materials science, health technologies and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth.

Kayla earned a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2010, before completing an MPhil in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar, and conducted research on modelling the fuel cycle for a next generation, thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor concept.

She was born in Pocatello, Idaho, but considers Richland, Washington, her home town.

Date: 03-30-18 Location: Bldg 5, T-38 Flight Simulator Subject: 2017 ASCAN Training - Kayla Barron and Warren Hoburg during T-38 Flight Simulator Training. Photographer: James Blair (25500979)
Date: 03-30-18 Location: Bldg 5, T-38 Flight Simulator Subject: 2017 ASCAN Training - Kayla Barron and Warren Hoburg during T-38 Flight Simulator Training. Photographer: James Blair (25500979)

She went on to serve in the US Navy, having done her undergraduate degree at the US Naval Academy. Lt Cmdr Barron, as she is formally known, earned her submarine warfare officer qualification and deployed three times while serving aboard the USS Maine.

At the time of her selection as an astronaut candidate in 2017, Kayla was serving as the flag aide to the superintendent of the US Naval Academy.

2017 NASA Astronaut Candidates - Kayla Barron. Photo Date: June 6, 2017. Location: Ellington Field - Hangar 276, Tarmac. Photographer: Robert Markowitz (25500878)
2017 NASA Astronaut Candidates - Kayla Barron. Photo Date: June 6, 2017. Location: Ellington Field - Hangar 276, Tarmac. Photographer: Robert Markowitz (25500878)

The Falcon 9 first stage used to launch this mission flew previously on SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply mission to the station in June 2021. It is the first mission to fly a previously used nosecone.

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