Hawthorne-based SpaceX will attempt late Saturday night to launch its third group of astronauts to the International Space Station as part of its contract with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to shuttle personnel to the orbiting outpost.
The four-member crew is scheduled to launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 11:21 p.m. Saturday California time. If the launch is postponed for any reason, a backup launch window opens at 10:10 p.m. California time Nov. 3.
Flying aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance will be NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander; Tom Marshburn, pilot; and Kayla Barron, mission specialist. Also aboard will be European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist.
The astronauts — dubbed Crew-3, as part of SpaceX’s third official manned flight to the space station — are expected to arrive at the station early Monday morning.
They will be greeted upon arrival by the four-member crew of the last manned SpaceX flight, Crew-2, who have been aboard the station since April.
That crew — NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet — are expected to return to Earth in early November aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Endeavour.
McArthur, who grew up in Northern California, is a UCLA graduate in aerospace engineering, and she earned a doctorate in oceanography at UC San Diego, where she was a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
SpaceX last November sent its first official crew to the space station in a separate Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Resilience.
SpaceX’s first manned mission to the space station actually occurred last summer with the launch of two astronauts from Cape Canaveral in the Endeavour capsule, marking the first manned mission to launch from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle program was retired. But that trip was technically dubbed a demonstration flight to test the capabilities of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
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