SpaceX will conduct its third mission to send astronauts to space on April 20 from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft will send two NASA astronauts, one JAXA astronaut, and one ESA astronaut to the International Space Station. The mission called Crew-2 will be the first SpaceX flight for a European Space Agency astronaut and the second for a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut.
SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission for NASA will also be very special for another reason. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket used for Crew-2 will be the same booster that SpaceX used to send Crew-1 astronauts to the space station. SpaceX regularly launches, lands, and re-uses its rocket boosters, but reusing rocket boosters to fly people will be a whole new milestone.
It’s not just the rocket first stage that will be familiar for Crew-2. The Crew Dragon spacecraft that SpaceX used on its Demo-2 mission to fly NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the ISS will make a return on this mission. This will mark the first time SpaceX has reused a Crew Dragon spacecraft to fly people.
NASA announced the astronauts who will fly on Crew-2 last summer to allow plenty of time for training:
- Shane Kimbrough (NASA) Commander
- Megan McArthur (NASA) Pilot
- Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA) Mission Specialist
- Thomas Pesquet (ESA) Mission Specialist
Learn more about the astronauts of Crew-2 here.
Mark your calendars
We recently saw two SpaceX vehicles parked at the International Space Station for the first time with a Crew Dragon spacecraft and Dragon 2 cargo spacecraft docked at the same time. When Crew-2 arrives at the ISS, we will see two Crew Dragon spacecrafts parked together in space in another milestone.
Return of Crew-1 with NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, is currently scheduled for late April or early May. Crew-2 astronauts are set to return in fall 2021.
NASA and SpaceX also continue preparations for the launch of the agency’s Crew-3 mission, which currently is targeted for fall of this year.