NASA, SpaceX target Oct. 23 for Crew-3 astronaut launch

NASA and SpaceX have announced that the pair’s autumn mission to send four astronauts to the International Space Station will launch no earlier than Oct. 23.

The decision comes as the two organizations are preparing for the preceding astronaut launch, called Crew-2, which is currently scheduled for April 22 and which will carry crewmembers from three different space agencies to the orbiting laboratory: NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

The October launch, dubbed Crew-3, will also carry four astronauts to the orbiting laboratory for a six-month stay. NASA has already announced that the flight will carry U.S. astronauts Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer; the fourth crewmember has yet to be identified publicly.

In conjunction with the Oct. 23 launch window for Crew-3, Crew-2 will return to Earth no earlier than Oct. 31, giving the two cohorts about a week of overlap to transition the space station safely to its next residents.

The Crew-3 flight will be SpaceX’s third full-fledged crewed mission for NASA; the company also launched two veteran astronauts on a two-month demonstration mission in May 2020.

SpaceX is one of two companies working with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner vehicle will also begin making such flights once it completes test flights, perhaps this year.

Source: Space.com

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