If all goes according to plan, the U.S. Space Force will soon have its first service member in orbit.
According to SpaceNews, U.S. Air Force colonel and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins is the commander of the four-person Crew-1 mission currently scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Nov. 14. He was already planning to transfer from the Air Force to the Space Force, and now Space Force leadership is hoping to commission him during a ceremony held in orbit.
“If all goes well, we’re looking to swear him into the Space Force from the International Space Station,” said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force according to the SpaceNews report.
The Senate approved his transfer in July. Hopkins will become the first NASA astronaut within the Space Force; the military is a regular conduit of astronaut recruitment and the NASA corps includes retired or active members of most of the longstanding military branches.
“The U.S. Space Force, as the newest military service, is looking forward to contributing to this legacy,” Catie Hague, a spokesperson for Gen. Raymond, told Space News, adding that NASA and the Space Force were collaborating to shape an in-orbit ceremony to mark Hopkins’ transfer.
Accompanying Hopkins on his SpaceX launch will be NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. The foursome will spend six months in space as the first full-fledged crewed mission the company launches to orbit.
SpaceX is one of two companies with NASA contracts to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The other company is Boeing, which will fly astronauts on its own Starliner spacecraft. SpaceX’s first crewed flight, the Demo-2 mission, launched two astronauts on a four-month flight in May.