NASA has announced the astronauts that will fly on the third crewed SpaceX mission, revealing a multi-national crew of four that will travel to the International Space Station (ISS).
The mission, known as Crew-2, will be the second operational flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, after the Crew-1 mission expected in September this year.
On board will be Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA, Akihiko Hoshide from the Japanese space agency (JAXA), and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency (ESA) – the first European astronaut to fly on Crew Dragon.
“I am thrilled to be the first European to fly on the new generation of US crewed spacecraft,” Pesquet said in a statement. “It will be extra interesting for me to compare with my first flight as a Soyuz pilot, and to bring this experience to the team.” Most Popular In: Science
The mission is scheduled to launch in spring 2021, with the four astronauts remaining on the ISS for six months. They will join three others who will have launched on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, bringing the total number of people on the ISS up to seven.
It will follow the Crew-1 mission, scheduled to lift-off in September 2020. On board that mission will be NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
The first crewed SpaceX mission, technically a test mission called Demo-2, is still ongoing. That mission launched on May 30, 2020 to global acclaim, with astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on board – the latter the husband of Crew-2’s Megan McArthur. They are scheduled to return to Earth in early August.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is the first of two private spacecraft funded by NASA to transport astronauts to the ISS. The other, Boeing’s Starliner, has been beset by delays – but may fly for the first time next year.
Alongside these flights for NASA, SpaceX also plans to use Crew Dragon to fly paying space tourists into orbit. The actor Tom Cruise has reportedly signed up a flight, while Houston firm Axiom Space signed a deal earlier this year to fly an all-private mission.