SpaceX, NASA to launch space station Crew-2 mission with four astronauts on 20 April

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is going to take astronauts to the International Space Station not earlier than 20 April, according to a release by the American space agency. The second crew rotation mission will see four astronauts boarding a Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to their destination. NASA says, this will be the first time that two international partner crew members are flying together. This is being undertaken as part of the agency’s ‘Commercial Crew Program’.

While NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will serve as the spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide will be one of the mission specialists. Also, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will serve as the second mission specialist.

 SpaceX, NASA to launch space station Crew-2 mission with four astronauts on 20 April

Members of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station participated in training in Hawthorne, California, on 11 January 2021. From left: ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. Image Credit: SpaceX

The space agency also detailed about the lift off and its timing. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will be launched from NASA’s Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four astronauts are then supposed to camp at the ISS working as part of a seven-member crew. They are likely to return in fall of 2021. Both NASA and SpaceX are gearing up for the launch of the third crew mission as well, which will be launching off Earth in the fall, during the return of the second batch of astronauts.

The Crew-2 mission’s arrival at the station will overlap with the return of the Crew-1 mission astronauts who are currently stationed at the ISS. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi are scheduled to return in late April or early May. Hopkins was the Crew Dragon Commander while Glover was the pilot. Both Walker and Noguchi were the mission specialists.

Launched in November last year, the Crew-1 mission was the first crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft once NASA certified it for regular flights to the ISS as part of its Commercial Crew Program

Also read: SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission to launch four astronauts to the ISS on 14 November