The United States reemerged as a space power, capable of launching astronauts to space, when SpaceX launched their first crewed missions last year as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. No astronauts had launched from American soil in nearly a decade until SpaceX demonstrated its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft is reliable to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The agency booked six SpaceX’s flights aboard Dragon to launch crews to the orbiting lab for the next couple of years. The aerospace company already launched the first operational mission for NASA, known as Crew-1, to the Space Station in November 2020; the mission is still ongoing. Meanwhile, Crew-2 astronauts are preparing to launch aboard Crew Dragon for SpaceX’s second operational mission and third crewed flight to ISS that is scheduled to liftoff no earlier than April 20. Crew-2 members are an international crew representing NASA, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and ESA (European Space Agency). The four astronauts that will be launched are: NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet. Crew-2 is “expected to arrive at the space station to overlap with the astronauts that flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission,” the agency shared in a press release. Crew-1 is expected to return to Earth until April or May.
An updated launch date for #Crew2 announced: no earlier than 20 April, it might change again, but launch is near! 🚀https://t.co/ZQkTgPQOs8 #MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/6wMyq9cqf7— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) January 30, 2021
During the Crew-2 Mission, NASA astronaut Kimbrough will be spacecraft commander. He has been an astronaut since 2004; has spent a total of 189 days in space, and performed six spacewalks. This upcoming flight will be his third trip to space. He revealed the Crew-2 mission patch in December, shown below. NASA Astronaut McArthur will be Crew-2 pilot. She has been to space once in 2009, spending 12 days and 21 hours in space, during the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. She shared a cool photo of her wearing a SpaceX spacesuit, pictured below.
Excited to reveal our Crew-2 mission patch! The determined expression of the Dragon in the patch reflects the strength of the team and their contribution to the exploration of space @Thom_astro @Astro_Megan @Aki_Hoshide #nasa #spacex #iss #space pic.twitter.com/0W3OwlQXKA— Shane Kimbrough (@astro_kimbrough) December 4, 2020
80 days to our planned launch date! But who's counting?? pic.twitter.com/TiiQcp3c4v— Megan McArthur (@Astro_Megan) January 29, 2021
Crew-2 will be JAXA Astronaut Hoshide’s third spaceflight, he has spent a total of 124-days at the station. ESA Astronaut Pesquet will be Crew-1 mission specialist, he has 196 days of experience in space. Recently Pesquet shared a collection of photographs of him and Hoshide training for their upcoming spacewalks at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, Texas. To train for spacewalks, formally known as Extravehicular Activity (EVA), astronauts practice how to move under water inside a giant pool, pictured below. They wear suits designed to provide neutral buoyancy in order to simulate space’s microgravity environment.
Aujourd'hui, pendant votre après-midi, a lieu une sortie extra-véhiculaire sur l'ISS. Au programme : amélioration de Columbus ! @Astro_Andreas sera le chef d'orchestre depuis Houston. @Aki_Hoshide et moi avions testé les procédures en piscine ! https://t.co/WA4xfffh1R pic.twitter.com/LQ3lW5bE8l— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) January 27, 2021
More #spacewalk training with @Aki_Hoshide. A session in the pool lasts all day.— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) January 27, 2021
Today, two of our colleagues are heading out to upgrade @esa's Columbus laboratory, with @Astro_Andreas directing @AstroVicGlover & @Astro_illini in space. Watch live: https://t.co/0HYNcIcz2i pic.twitter.com/1b4om4WRgM
Featured Image Source: NASA
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.