After the successful Crew-1 mission launch of four astronauts to the international space station last November, who are now still up in the space, NASA and SpaceX are preparing for the SpaceX Crew-2 mission, which will take off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida next April.
This mission, like all SpaceX crews commercial missions, will be carrying 4 Astronauts/Scientists who will work, not less than 6 months on the ISS. They will be focusing on scientific experiments and space walks to find more answers, and even questions, about space.
The date of the launch is not planned to be delayed, but it may just shift for a few days as Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program explained: “to [better] optimize some of the orbital mechanics and the launch opportunities.” This means that the shutdown of a Merlin engine on a Feb. 15 Falcon 9 launch, that prevented the booster from landing, is not something that SpaceX considers a concern.
This mission will have some firsts, as it will be the first mission to fly on a reused spacecraft as Crew Dragon capsule, for Crew-2 previously, flew the Demo-2 mission last year. Also, It will be the first mission in over 20 years that will board astronauts from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency together.
The crew will be:
- Commander and flight engineer Shane Kimbrough, who will be responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry, and this will mark his 3rd mission to space.
- Second-in-command, Megan McArthur, who will be responsible for spacecraft systems and performance, and it will be her first space mission.
- Mission specialist and engineer, Akihiko Hoshide, who will work closely with Kimbrough to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight, and this will also mark his 3rd mission to space.
- Second mission specialist, Thomas Pesquet, who will also be working a commander and pilot to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. This will be his 2nd space mission, and he will also be the first European astronaut to launch on board an American Commercial Crew Vehicle.
The crew seemed excited and optimistic on a live interview with NEWS 6 as Astronaut Megan McArthur, said:
“We are starting to get excited; we have been very busy with all of our training. Just want to give a shoutout to the NASA and SpaceX training teams that have done such a great job. We’re ready and we’re excited to fly.”
Commander Kimbrough added how these missions are also meant to inspire future generations to bring outer space to their reach:
“We’re gonna do our very best to represent NASA and ESA and JAXA and SpaceX in the International Space Station,” Kimbrough said. “It’s an international crew so that in itself can show the possibilities that are out there.”