SpaceX’s Second Crew Bound for the Stars Soon!
Looks like we got more astronauts planned to fly atop Crew Dragon in the near future! Just recently, four veteran astronauts from America, France, and Japan have been selected to launch aboard SpaceX’s second long duration expedition to the International Space Station. They are Shane Kimbrough, the commander; Megan McArthur, the pilot; and Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet, the two mission specialists.
Of the four crew members, three of them have spent at least six months aboard the ISS; the only exception is Megan McArthur, who made her first flight during the final Hubble Servicing Mission eleven years ago. Why are there two international astronauts onboard? Because that was part of the agreement SpaceX and NASA made to have a variety of different nations aboard Crew Dragon including Russia. However, Russia has not set up a mission to launch one of their cosmonauts from American soil yet. Speaking of agreements, there was another part that stated that one American or international astronaut fly aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft during its ISS mission.
Regarding the Space Shuttle program, which Megan McArthur was a part of, both Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide each flew on the shuttle too. Both of their flights were one after the other, surprisingly! Going back to the Crew Dragon, the maximum number of seats the spacecraft can accommodate is seven. But NASA’s safety concerns about the reentry and landing phases prompted SpaceX to change the seat number to four. Even though this reason was not stated, I believe it’s also because there are not enough resources to sustain all seven crew members during free flight to and from the space station.
To sum it all up, having been selected over a month ago; Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide, and Thomas Pesquet are set to launch to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center. The date is somewhere within next spring right before the first SpaceX crewed expedition goes back home. Good luck to the veteran star voyagers aboard SpaceX’s bus to space!