NASA has filled the final seat aboard the first operational SpaceX Crew Dragon flight selecting Shannon Walker.
In a March 31 press release, NASA announced that Houston native Shannon Walker has been selected to be the fourth member of the first operational SpaceX Crew Dragon flight. Walker will join fellow NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover Jr., and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
Walker is a NASA veteran joining the agency in 1995. She was selected to begin astronaut training in 2004. Since graduating, Walker has spent 163 days in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a member of the crews of Expedition 24 and 25 in 2010.
The first operational Crew Dragon flight is expected to be launched later this year. However, the flight is dependent on the successful completion of Demo-2, the first crewed test flight of the Space Crew Dragon spacecraft.
SpaceX completed the first uncrewed test of the Crew Dragon spacecraft in early 2019. However, following complications during a static fire test of the recovered spacecraft and additional complications incurred during testing of the spacecraft’s parachute system, the first crewed flight was delayed.
Following exhaustive investigations and a redesign of the spacecraft abort thrusters and parachutes, the spacecraft is nearing readiness for the first crewed flight. NASA has scheduled the flight for mid-to-late May. It will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 from the historic Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Following the successful completion of Demo-2 mission, Walker, Hopkins, Glover and Noguchi will don the sleek white Crew Dragon flight suit ready for their trip into space.