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From left to right: Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough, Akihiko Hoshide, and Thomas Pesquet.NASA
With Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, the first-ever astronauts to launch aboard a SpaceX rocket, set to return to Earth this weekend, its time for NASA and SpaceX to think ahead to the next Crew Dragon missions.
Crew-2, which will be the second fully operational Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS) after Crew-1, will launch four astronauts into orbit.
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These have just been officially announced as NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Preparing for launch
The Crew-2 mission is set to launch in the spring of 2021, assuming the Demo-2 mission and upcoming Crew-1 missions are a success. Those who watched Bob Behnken carrying out his press duties leading up to the Demo-2 mission might remember him alluding to his marriage to Crew-2 crewmember McArthur.
After Behnken touches down on Sunday, conditions permitting, he will have until the spring before watching her launch up to the ISS with the rest of the Crew-2 astronauts, where they will spend about six months aboard the station as expedition crew members, NASA explained in a press release.
Once aboard, the Crew-2 astronauts will share the station with three crewmates, who will launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, making a total of seven astronauts on the ISS.
A crew of space veterans
As is expected, the Crew-2 astronauts, who will be launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, are highly experienced space veterans. McArthur has flown to space once aboard space shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on STS-125. Kimbrough has flown to space twice: first in 2008 aboard NASA's shuttle Endeavour, and again in 2016 as part of the Expedition 49/50 long-duration mission to the station.
Crew-2 will also be Hoshide's third mission. The JAXA astronaut flew aboard the shuttle Discovery in 2008, and then flew to the ISS a Soyuz spacecraft in 2012. Pesquet has flown once, launching aboard a Soyuz to the space station as part of Expeditions 50 and 51.
All of this, of course, is part of NASA and SpaceX's eventual efforts to get back to the Moon, and then to reach Mars and beyond. We're living in an exciting time for space travel.