Before Elon Musk can take his Space X Mars plans any further, he must prove it can reliably perform missions to the International Space Station.
SpaceX ‘is about to make its third trip to the ISS, a job that NASA tasked to complete over creating and building its own vehicles, this trip will recycle the Endeavor module that SpaceX used for completion of its first successful manned mission to the ISS.
launch date, time, and location
The SpaceX mission is scheduled to launch no earlier than 6:11 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, April 22 (This Week). The flight to the International Space Station is estimated to take 23 hours and 39 minutes, so the onboard astronauts will not meet their fellow astronauts until Friday at 5:30 am Eastern.
The mission will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and then dock at the forward, Earth-facing port on the ISS. The astronauts currently onboard the ISS cleared a spot for the new crew last week. The Crew-1 team, which flew the successful mission to the ISS using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, moved their craft, Resilience, to a different holding port on the station on Monday, April 6. This was an amazing feat for space technology as it was the first time a Crew Dragon capsule autonomously relocated to a different port on the ISS, according to several sources.
The Endeavor will carry two NASA astronauts, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, as well as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Akihiko Hoshide and the European Space Agency’s Thomas Pesquet. This is the first time a commercial space crew has flown with an international team of astronauts
Commander Shane Kimbrough
Kimbrough, the commander of the Endeavor and the mission is logged as spending a total of 189 days in space and has performed six spacewalks, according to data from NASA. He first launched into space in 2008, on the STS-126 Endeavour mission.
His second mission to the ISS launched in October 2016 and logged to have spent 173 days on the station before returning to Earth in April 2017.
Mission Specialist Akihiko Hoshide
Hoshide has been to the ISS before so is familiar with the surroundings. He flew to the station once in 2008 to deliver Japan’s “Kibo” experiment module, which allows astronauts to perform experiments in a pressurized chamber.
Hoshide returned to the ISS in 2012, when he stayed aboard for 124 days to perform where he deployed satellites and performed experiments using the Kibo module.
Pilot Megan McArthur
McArthur has not yet been to the ISS, although has traveled to space before. Her only mission so far was the involved with the servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009 as a flight engineer The mission lasted around 13 days.
Mission Specialist Thomas Pesquet
Pesquet is returning to the ISS. He has the most experience out of all of the crew. A previous mission in 2016/2017 meant he spent approximately 197 days on the ISS.
One of his tasks on board will be to perform magic tricks in low-gravity. This experiment will be recorded and used as a video to inspire kids to pursue STEM careers, and will explain how an astronaut’s nervous system adapts when not on earth.
SpaceX Crew-2 return date
After launching, the Falcon 9 rocket used to launch the Crew Dragon capsule will return itself to Earth. This is the same rocket that was used to bring the first crew to the ISS, making it the first time a rocket has been re-used for a crewed launch.
Around five days after the Crew-2 astronauts arrive at the ISS, the returning team will travel back to earth aboard the Resilience. They will have spent a full 6 months aboard the ISS.
The newly arrived crew are scheduled to spend 6 months aboard the ISS, and likely will come back to Earth aboard the Endeavor one the new crew (Crew 3) arrive at the station around October 2021.