NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than April 20 for the launch of the second operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The NASA SpaceX Crew-2 mission will carry four astronauts aboard a refurbished Crew Dragon Endeavour to the International Space Station (ISS). The four-person crew is made up of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who will be the first European astronaut to fly aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft.
NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, who will pilot Endeavour, will be returning to space for the first time in more than a decade. McArthur made her first and only other flight to space aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2009 for the fifth and final mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. McArthur is also married to fellow NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, who was a part of the two-person crew aboard the first Crew Dragon flight to carry a crew.
Once launched in April, Crew-2 will rendezvous with the ISS and dock with the station’s Harmony module. A successful docking will mark the first time two SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will be docked with the station at once.
The arrival of the four-person Crew-2 complement to the ISS is set to overlap with the departure of Crew-1, which was launched in November 2020. According to NASA, Crew-1 is slated to depart from the ISS aboard Crew Dragon Resilience in late April or early May.
For a short time, while the Resilience and Endeavour crews are aboard the station together, the crew of the ISS will swell to eleven, one of the largest it has ever accommodated. The largest crew to inhabit the ISS was 13 in 2009.
The Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft that will carry Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet to the ISS will be embarking on its second mission to the orbiting laboratory. It was launched on its maiden flight on May 30. The flight, designated Demo-2, was the first crewed mission aboard a Crew Dragon and was utilised to certify the spacecraft safe to carry astronauts.