Astronauts selected for SpaceX’s Crew-2 flight, including first European to fly on Dragon

Today NASA announced the crew who will ride on SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission slated to take off spring 2021. This will be SpaceX’s second operational crewed mission.

The third SpaceX launch with astronauts onboard in the company’s history will follow the pending completion of DM-2 and the upcoming Crew-1 mission. The latter mission is set to launch in mid-September.

The team for Crew-2 include these four experienced astronauts:

  • Shane Kimbrough (NASA) Commander
  • Megan McArthur (NASA) Pilot
  • Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA) Mission Specialist
  • Thomas Pesquet (ESA) Mission Specialist

The Crew-2 astronauts will stay on the space station as an expedition crew for six months. They will be joined by three astronauts from a Soyuz crew bringing the total number of residents onboard the ISS to seven.

After the Space Shuttle’s retirement and until now, the normal max crew size has been six. This was due to the limiting number of seats on the Russian Soyuz capsule. The return of having a full sevent astronauts on the station will allow almost double the amount of workload toward science experiments and other research. All four members of this flight are also veteran astronauts.

Crew experience

For astronaut Shane Kimbrough, this will be his third spaceflight. The mission will also make Kimbrough the first American astronaut to fly three different vehicles to the ISS. JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Crew-1 team will be the first of any country.

Kimbrough’s first space flight was on STS-126 back in 2008 followed by a Soyuz for Expedition 49/50 in 2016.

Astronaut Megan McArthur, who is married to DM-2 astronaut Bob Behnken, will be experiencing her second spaceflight in her career. Her first spaceflight occurred near the end of the space shuttle era in 2009. McArthur flew on STS-125, the final servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope.

Akihiko Hoshide, a Japanese astronaut for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will complete his third spaceflight after having one trip on Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-124) and a Soyuz capsule (Expedition 32/33).

Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut for the European Space Agency, will be returning for his second spaceflight after flying as part of the Expedition 50/51 crew.

Collectively, this crew has 539 days in space prior to the SpaceX Crew-2 mission on the International Space Station.

First crew hardware reuse

The crew of astronauts won’t be the only part of this mission returning to flight.

During an Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel meeting on July 23, NASA announced that the space agency will adjust its policy and allow SpaceX to reuse Falcon 9 rocket boosters and Crew Dragon capsules on Commercial Crew missions.

For SpaceX, this is critical for their goal of lowering total launch cost. It’s also proven routine for SpaceX on uncrewed missions that send satellites to orbit or supplies to the space station.

NASA plans to reuse SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour spacecraft from the DM-2 flight test mission for the upcoming Crew-2 mission. Crew-2 will also reuse the booster that will be used on Crew11. This will be the first time astronauts will fly on a reused capsule and booster.

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