NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) announced the astronaut crew who will be part of SpaceX's Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. – “The trio will consist of NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, who will serve as commander and pilot, respectively, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, who will serve as a mission specialist. A fourth crew member will be added at a later date, following a review by NASA and its international partners,” the agency announced in a press release today, December 14. The Crew-1 mission will be Maurer and Chari’s first trip to space, alongside veteran astronaut Marshburn who has experience in three flights to the orbiting laboratory.
.@NASA_Astronauts Tom Marshburn & Raja Chari, and Matthias Maurer of @ESA, will fly to the @Space_Station on NASA's @SpaceX Crew-3 mission, expected to launch in fall 2021. It'll be the 1st spaceflight for Chari & Maurer, and the 3rd for Marshburn: https://t.co/R27cm1FJJ3 pic.twitter.com/OXiegomXUS— NASA (@NASA) December 14, 2020
Crew-3 astronauts are scheduled to liftoff in Autumn of 2021, atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft from historic Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX's Crew-3 flight will be the third crewed operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the company’s fourth crewed flight overall under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “The goal of the program is to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective crew access to the space station and low-Earth orbit in partnership with American aerospace industry,” the agency states, “NASA’s contract with SpaceX is for six total crew missions to the orbiting laboratory. Commercial transportation to and from the station will provide expanded utility, additional research time, and broader opportunities for discovery on the orbital outpost.”
Crew-3 astronauts are expected to ride aboard a previously flown spacecraft, the Crew-1 Dragon ‘Resilience’ capsule that is currently docked to the Space Station. Benji Reed, Senior Director of Human Spaceflight programs at SpaceX, said in September that the final launch date for Crew-3 will be determined by the refurbishment of the Resilience spacecraft after Crew-1's return. Crew-1 astronauts are scheduled to return from ISS in around six months. Resilience will cross Earth's harsh atmosphere and conduct a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Atlantic ocean.
ESA Astronaut Maurer revealed today SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission is called “Cosmic Kiss.” ESA says the crew decided to call the mission ‘Cosmic Kiss’ because the name symbolizes ‘a declaration of love for space and the connection the International Space Station provides between human kind and the cosmos.’ “It communicates the special connection the Station provides between Earth’s inhabitants and the cosmos,” explains Maurer. “It also conveys the value of partnership in exploring farther to the Moon and Mars, alongside the need to respect, protect and preserve the nature of our home planet as we seek a sustainable future on Earth.” ESA also revealed the Cosmic Kiss mission patch in a video released today, shown below. The Cosmic Kiss mission patch features a set of red lines in a heart-shape formation depicting the Space Station connected through zig-sag electrocardiogram lines, that symbolize the human heartbeat, connecting Earth to the Moon, pictured below. It also depicts the Pleiades star cluster in yellow dots, and Mars as a red dot in the distance. The patch’s design inspiration comes from the Nebra Sky Disk (Himmelsscheibe von Nebra’) –‘the oldest known realistic illustration of the night sky’ from the year 1600 B.C., as well as the Pioneer plaques and Voyager Golden Records that were sent on space probes into deep space carrying messages from Earth.“These artifacts show a fascination with space that spans the ages. Since the beginning of time, humans have looked skyward for knowledge about the origins of life, the Universe,” he says.
ESA astronaut @astro_matthias from Germany has been assigned to his first mission to the @Space_Station, to be launched in autumn 2021 as part of @SpaceX #Crew3. His mission is called #CosmicKiss 👉 https://t.co/tPUaN1wmsG pic.twitter.com/HEpcyQneut— ESA (@esa) December 14, 2020
All Image Sources: SpaceX / NASA / ESA
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.