SpaceX's new Dragon capsule named 'Freedom'

Crew-4 will launch in April

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SpaceX's Crew-4 will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in April aboard a Dragon capsule named "Freedom." 

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren announced the name on Twitter on Wednesday. 

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"FREEDOM!! Crew-4 will fly to the International Space Station in a new Dragon capsule named ‘Freedom,'" he wrote. "The name celebrates a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit."

Lindgren continued to say that SpaceX and NASA have "restored a national capability" and that Crew-4 honors the ingenuity and hard work of those involved in the effort. 

"Alan Shepard flew on Freedom 7 at the dawn of human spaceflight. We are honored to bring Freedom to a new generation!" he said. 

The Freedom 7 mission took place in May 1961. Shepard, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, piloted the first U.S. human spaceflight.

Lindgren, the Crew-4 mission commander, is joined by NASA pilot Bob Hines and mission specialist Jessica Watkins, as well as European Space Agency mission specialist Samantha Cristoforetti.

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NASA said the earliest targeted launch date for the mission is April 19, 2022. 

According to an agency blog post, the date was adjusted "allow appropriate spacing for operations and post-flight data reviews between human spaceflight missions and to allow for multiple consecutive launch attempts based on the orbital mechanics for arrival to the space station."

"The current no earlier than launch date is Tuesday, April 19, pending completion of program reviews expected early next week to formalize the new target. Crew-4 will carry an international crew of four astronauts to the orbital complex on a new Dragon spacecraft and flight proven Falcon 9 rocket for a science expedition mission," it said.

Freedom will lift off in a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Florida-based Kennedy Space Center. 

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The other Crew Dragon capsules are named Endeavour, Resilience and Endurance.