NASA Announces Astronauts for SpaceX’s Crew-2 Dragon Launch in 2021

NASA revealed on Tuesday the name of the astronauts who will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard the SpaceX Crew-2 mission, set to take place next spring.​ The space agency and its international collaborators have officially selected the astronauts to fly on SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission in the spring of 2021, as it had announced.

The expedition will be SpaceX’s second operational Crew Dragon flight to the orbiting lab, following the upcoming Crew-1 astronaut mission, which is set to launch in September.

The Crew Slated to Fly to the ISS

Two of the chosen astronauts are American: Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur. Akihiko Hoshide is from Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Thomas Pesquet from France is representing the European Space Agency (ESA).

SpaceX made history at the end of May when it lifted off NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the ISS abroad of the Demo-2 test flight mission. This was the first time astronauts launched from American soil since President Obama ended the space shuttle program almost a decade ago.

That SpaceX Crew Dragon flight was also the first time a private company and not a government sent astronauts into Earth‘s orbit; the two are scheduled to return to Earth on Sunday. Behnken, who managed the Demo-2 mission, is married to McArthur, who will pilot the Crew-2 expedition. In between, there’s the Crew-1 mission we already mentioned, and which is set to launch late in September.

All four Crew-2 astronauts are space veterans, with numerous missions under their belts. McArthur, who was born in Hawaii, has participated in a previous trip to space, according to NASA. She launched in 2009 with the space shuttle Atlantis on an expedition as a specialist on STS-125, which was the last servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Kimbrough, a retired Army colonel, born in Texas, will be the mission’s spacecraft commander. This expedition will be his third trip to space and the second long-term stay on board of the space station. He has already spent 189 days outside Earth: he has flown first in 2008 on NASA’s shuttle Endeavour as part of the STS-126 expedition to the orbiting lab, then again in 2016 on a Soyuz spacecraft as part of the Expedition 49/50 long-duration mission to the ISS.

The crew for SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission. From the left it’s NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet. [Image: NASA]
Hoshide was a part of two missions to space: on the first, STS-124 in 2008, he traveled on board of the shuttle Discovery and on the second in 2012, he flew to the orbiting lab in a Soyuz capsule for Expeditions 32 and 22.

Pesquet, the youngest member of the crew at age 42, is the only one with no mission history under the now-retired U.S. space shuttle program. However, he’s already spent 196 days in space as he has traveled once, aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to the space station as part of Expeditions 50 and 51.

The Crew-2 astronauts are scheduled to stay on the space station for about six months, together with three other crew members who ill get there separately on a Russian Soyuz. That makes for a seven-person team, instead of the usual six, which NASA said will allow twice as much research to be carried out during their stay.

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