Wednesday, August 12, 2020

NASA announces astronauts for SpaceX Crew-2 mission aboard Crew Dragon

Just days after announcing that the first operational mission to the ISS via SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is being targeted for September, NASA also announced Tuesday the crew for the second operational mission: Crew-2. The astronauts flying Crew-2 are NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, serving as spacecraft commander and pilot, and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, serving as mission specialists.

“The Crew-2 astronauts will remain aboard the space station for approximately six months as expedition crew members, along with three crewmates who will launch via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft,” NASA’s press release says. “The increase of the full space station crew complement to seven members – over the previous six – will allow NASA to effectively double the amount of science that can be conducted in space.”

Crew-2 liftoff date

The four-member crew of the Crew-2 mission is targeted to lift off in spring 2021, according to NASA, following the success of the Demo-2 mission and Crew-1 mission, which is scheduled to lift off late September. Just like the now-announced Crew-2 mission, Crew-1 will also consist of four astronauts, 3 NASA astronauts and 1 JAXA astronaut. The Demo-2 mission is currently targeting a splashdown date of August 2, 2020.

Intiially, there were reports that suggested NASA might be testing an emergency escape procedure from the ISS, it seems like those rumors might just be rumors. The alleged drill was said to “rehearse” an “emergency” in which the four of the five ISS crew members will simulate a last-minute escape from the space station.

SpaceX crew-2
NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover Jr. and Mike Hopkins and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi training in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule for the Crew-1 mission. | Image: SpaceX

The Commercial Crew Program

The completion of a successful and smooth splashdown of the Demo-2 mission, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, will complete SpaceX’s certification from NASA for the Commercial Crew Program for Crew-1, Crew-2, and future missions. Just recently, the Crew Dragon passed the critical “habitability assessment,” which involves opening/closing the hatch, operating the waste system, and moving cargo back into the Crew Dragon.

SpaceX is the first private company to carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX also looks like it will become the first certified member in the Commercial Crew Program. The other launch provider is Boeing and its Starliner spacecraft, which has yet to flown astronauts into space. It’s first test flight last December had a few flaws with the parachute and aims for a new test flight later this year.

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