NASA has announced names for the four astronauts who will create history when they board the Crew Dragon spacecraft for SpaceX’s Crew 2 mission. The mission, the final historic Demo mission for which was successfully concluded months back, aims at sending both humans and cargo into space. The Crew 2 is preparing for a launch to the International Space Center (ISS) in 2021.
As a part of the NASA Commercial Crew Programme, Robert Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will be taking part in the mission. Kimbrough had joined NASA in 2000 and has completed 189 total days in space. McArthur had joined NASA in the same year as Kimbrough, with a personal record of 13 whole days in space. The Crew 2 will be Robert’s third trip to the infinite space, while it will only be Megan’s second. Along with these two Americans, the Crew 2 will also be steered by Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency’s Thomas Pesquet.
Robert and Megan will join the crew as as spacecraft commander and pilot respectively, with Akihiko and Thomas fulfilling the role of mission specialists.
The Crew 2 follows both the Crew 1 mission, which is targeted for late September and the NASA-SpaceX’s Demo 2 test mission which made history as SpaceX’s first manned mission to space. The Demo 2 mission will make its way back to Earth on 2nd August.
The Dragon spacecraft will carry the 4 astronauts to the International Space Station, where they will be joined by 3 crewmates who will arrive on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, taking the count of the total crew to 7. NASA said, “The increase of the full space station crew complement to seven members – over the previous six – will allow NASA to effectively double the amount of science that can be conducted in space.”
Together, these 7 crewmates will remain in space for approximately 6 months.
NASA looks forward to building spacecrafts and rockets for deep space exploration and research. It aims to understand challenges faced during long space durations and find solutions for overcoming them. On the other hand, SpaceX, a key player in the private space industry truly believes that the Dragon can take not only astronauts, but also private passengers to Earth Orbit, ISS, or beyond. Lately, their focus has largely been on developing Starlink, a satellite constellation to provide satellite internet access to all parts of the globe.