NASA, SpaceX Adjust Next Crew Launch Date to Space Station

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron pose for a portrait during preflight training.
SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron pose for a portrait during preflight training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 2:21 a.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 31, for the agency’s Crew-3 launch to the International Space Station to allow additional time for spacecraft processing. The backup launch time and date is 1:10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3.

 

The official insignia for NASA's SpaceX Crew-3 launch.NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander, Tom Marshburn, pilot, and Kayla Barron, mission specialist as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist, will launch on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft and its Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The international crew entered their official quarantine Oct. 16, and will travel to Kennedy in the coming days for final training and preparations prior to launch.

 

Crew-3 astronauts are scheduled for a long-duration science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory, living and working as part of what is expected to be a seven-member crew. Launch on Oct. 31 would have Crew-3 arriving at the space station early on the morning of Monday, Nov. 1, for a short handover with the astronauts who flew to the station in April as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission.

 

With the Crew-3 launch date adjustment, return of Crew-2 with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, currently is planned for early November with splashdown of Crew Dragon Endeavour at one of seven landing zones off the coast of Florida.

SpaceX Crew-3 Astronauts Enter Quarantine for Mission to Space Station

Crew-3 astronauts Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron pose for a photo in their SpaceX spacesuits.
The astronauts of Crew-3 pose for a portrait in their space suits during a training session. From left are ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron. Chari is commander, Marshburn is the pilot, and Barron and Maurer are both mission specialists. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, entered their official quarantine period beginning Saturday, Oct. 16, in preparation for their flight to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission. They will lift off at 2:43 a.m. EDT Saturday, Oct. 30, aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endurance, atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

For crews preparing to launch, “flight crew health stabilization” is a routine part of the final preparations for all missions to the space station. Spending the final two weeks before liftoff in quarantine will help ensure the Crew-3 crew is healthy, protecting themselves and the astronauts already on the space station.

If they are able to maintain quarantine conditions at home, crew members can choose to quarantine from there until they travel to Kennedy. If they are unable to maintain quarantine conditions at home — for example, if a household member can’t maintain quarantine because of job or school requirements — they have the option of living in the Astronaut Quarantine Facility at Johnson Space Center until they leave for Kennedy.

Some additional safeguards have been added because of the coronavirus. Anyone who will come on-site or interact with the crew during the quarantine period, as well as any VIPs, will be screened for temperature and symptoms. Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer, as well as those in direct, close contact with the crew, will be tested twice for the virus as a precaution.

Crew-3 astronauts will become the third crew to fly a full-duration mission to the space station on Dragon for a six-month stay on the orbiting laboratory. They are scheduled to arrive at the space station 22 hours later at 12:30 a.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 31, for a short overlap with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission in April 2021. Also on board are Mark Vande Hei, NASA astronaut and Pytor Dubrov, cosmonaut of the Russian space agency Roscosmos who flew to the station on a Soyuz spacecraft for Expedition 65 in April 9, 2021, and Anton Shkaplerov, cosmonaut of the Russian space agency who flew to the station on a Soyuz spacecraft Oct. 5, 2021.

More details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA, SpaceX Update Upcoming Commercial Crew Flights

With a view of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at left, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars upward from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23, 2021, for NASA's SpaceX Crew-2 mission.
With a view of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at left, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars upward from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23, 2021, carrying the company’s Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission. Launch time was at 5:49 a.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA and SpaceX leadership provided an update Oct. 6 as part of the agency’s Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station – the third crew rotation flight that will carry an international crew of four astronauts on a science expedition to the microgravity laboratory as part of the Commercial Crew Program.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer will launch aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft launching on a Falcon 9 rocket on its way to the space station. The mission is scheduled to lift off Saturday, Oct. 30, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew-3 mission will fly a new Crew Dragon spacecraft, and will be the first mission to fly a previously used nosecone.

Crew-3 astronauts also will provide an update on their upcoming mission at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, Oct. 7, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas prior to going into standard preflight quarantine ahead final launch preparations.

Launch on Oct. 30 would have Crew-3 arriving at the space station early the next day after an approximate 22-hour journey for a short overlap with the astronauts who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission.

Prior to launch, NASA and SpaceX will complete a final dress rehearsal for the mission, and continue reviewing data as a part of the standard mission reviews. In support of Crew-3, SpaceX implemented several improvements to the Crew Dragon system based on knowledge gained from previous flights, including making a software change to build in more communications robustness against radiation effects while docked, adding more cleaning techniques to cut down on foreign object debris, improving computer performance during re-entry, and enhancing the spacecraft’s docking procedures and mechanisms to mitigate hardware interference on the International Space Station side of the interface.

NASA and SpaceX also have been working to conduct joint inspections of the waste management system on the Crew-2 spacecraft at the space station following an observation during a non-NASA mission. Based on the inspections, teams will limit the use of the waste system during the return flight of Crew-2. Earlier this year, the Dragon spacecraft supporting the Crew-2 mission completed a short port relocation flight around the International Space Station, and all systems on the spacecraft performed normally during its undocking and re-docking maneuver. SpaceX will implement a small design improvement on the new Dragon spacecraft supporting the Crew-3 mission and all future spacecraft to make the system even more robust.

Through data sharing with SpaceX, NASA also has gained additional insight into higher-altitude flights of Crew Dragon, the performance of the thermal protection system, and more data on micrometeoroid environment of space helping to improve modeling. In addition, NASA learned more about the environmental control and life support system on an extended in-orbit mission with crew continuously on board, including the system’s carbon dioxide scrubber. On all missions, including cargo flights, SpaceX continues to recover and examine parachutes for continued analysis by NASA, ultimately driving up the safety of all missions.

After Crew-3 arrival to the space station, return of the Crew-2 mission with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, is planned for early November. This Friday, the Crew-2 spacecraft is targeted to break the record set by Crew Dragon Resilience as it passes 168 days in orbit.

Missions teams continue to target April 15, 2022, for the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the space station for a six-month science mission aboard the microgravity laboratory.

Crew-4 will be commanded by Kjell Lindgren with Bob Hines as pilot, both NASA astronauts. ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will be a mission specialist and command the station’s Expedition 68 crew, while the remaining crew member has yet to be named. Crew-3 astronauts are set to return to Earth in late April 2022 following a similar handover with Crew-4.

NASA also announced it has reassigned astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. NASA decided it was important to make these reassignments to allow Boeing time to complete the development of Starliner while continuing plans for astronauts to gain spaceflight experience for the future needs of the agency’s missions.

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps remains assigned to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 for a long-duration science mission aboard the International Space Station. It is important for Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada and Jeanette Epps to gain their first spaceflight experience, and Epps currently is cross training with the team on the Crew Dragon system. There are many factors in play before any crew assignment is ready, including discussions with our international partners and Multilateral Crew Operations Panel approval. All three crew members have ample time to train on commercial crew systems and become fully prepared for their missions to the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore, Mike Fincke, and Suni Williams will continue to provide experience for Boeing as the agency prepares for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test and Starliner-1 missions. Additional Boeing flight assignments will be made in the future.

NASA Announces Astronaut Changes for Upcoming Commercial Crew Missions

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, left, and Josh Cassada, right.
NASA crew members of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. Pictured from left are NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada.
Photo credit: NASA

NASA has reassigned astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Crew Program.

Mann and Cassada will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, for the Crew-5 mission. Additional crew members will be announced later.

Crew-5 is expected to launch no earlier than fall 2022 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The duo and their crewmates will join an expedition crew aboard station for a long duration stay to conduct science activities for the benefit of humanity and exploration.

Mann and Cassada previously were assigned to missions on NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test and NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, respectively. NASA decided it was important to make these reassignments to allow Boeing time to complete the development of Starliner while continuing plans for astronauts to gain spaceflight experience for the future needs of the agency’s missions.

NASA astronauts Butch WilmoreMike Fincke, and Suni Williams will continue to provide experience for Boeing as the agency prepares for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test. Additional Boeing flight assignments will be made in the future.

Click here to read the full advisory.

NASA, SpaceX Continue Planning for Next Crew Rotation Missions to International Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars upward from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23, 2021.
With a view of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at left, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars upward from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23, 2021, carrying a crew of four on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission. Launch time was at 5:49 a.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA and SpaceX are continuing plans to launch Crew-3 astronauts to the International Space Station as early as Sunday Oct. 31, and targeting the return home of Crew-2 astronauts in the early-to-mid November timeframe.

Crew-3 will be the third crew rotation mission with astronauts on an American rocket and spacecraft from the United States to the space station, and the fourth flight with astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight in 2020, Crew-1 mission in 2020-21, and the ongoing Crew-2 flight as part of the Expedition 65 crew.

The Crew-3 mission will launch NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander, Tom Marshburn, pilot, and Kayla Barron, mission specialist, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist, aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew is scheduled for a long-duration stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, living and working as part of what is expected to be a seven-member crew.

Crew-3 astronauts plan to arrive at the station to overlap with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission in April 2021.

Missions teams also are targeting no earlier than April 15, 2022, for the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the space station for a six-month science mission aboard the microgravity laboratory.

Crew-4 will be commanded by Kjell Lindgren with Bob Hines as pilot, both NASA astronauts. ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will be a mission specialist and command the ISS Expedition 68 crew, while the remaining crew member has yet to be named. Crew-3 astronauts are set to return to Earth in late April 2022 following a similar handover with Crew-4.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and Mars.

Atlas V Rocket for First Astronaut Launch on Starliner Arrives at Launch Site

ULA Atlas V rocket
NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore, left, Mike Fincke, right, and Nicole Mann will launch on Boeing’s Crew Flight Test to demonstrate the ability of the Atlas V rocket and Starliner spacecraft to safely carry astronauts to and from the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket – set to help write a new chapter in human spaceflight by launching the first flight of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft with astronauts to the International Space Station – has arrived at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

ULA Atlas V rocket
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket arrives at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

The Atlas V will launch NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann on Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) to demonstrate the ability of the Atlas V and Starliner to safely carry astronauts to and from the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. CFT is targeted for later this year after successful completion of Starliner’s second uncrewed mission, Orbital Flight Test-2, which is targeted to launch on July 30 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The rocket-delivery ship, called R/S RocketShip, transported the Atlas V first stage and the Dual Engine Centaur upper stage from ULA’s manufacturing facility in Decatur, Alabama, to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. RocketShip set sail on June 14, arrived June 20, and the Atlas V was unloaded June 21.

Now at the Cape, the Atlas V will undergo receiving checks at the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center and await the start of operations to prepare for the flight, which will send the three astronauts to the space station. The crewmates are working closely with Boeing to develop the new spacecraft systems, which will provide round-trip crew transportation services to the space station and low-Earth orbit.

Read the full story here.

NASA, SpaceX Update Crew Launch and Return Dates

NASA's SpaceX Crew-2 mission lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in April 23, 2021.
Crew-2 is more than a month into its mission aboard the International Space Station following an April 23 launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The four crew members will return after a handover with Crew-3 astronauts following their launch and arrival in late October. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA and SpaceX have adjusted target launch and return dates for upcoming crew missions to and from the International Space Station based on visiting vehicle traffic.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission now is targeting launch no earlier than Sunday, Oct. 31, with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer. Crew-3 will launch on a new Crew Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin a six-month science mission at the space station.

Crew-3 astronauts will arrive at the space station for a short handover period with the Crew-2 astronauts and other crew members on Expedition 66. Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet are targeting early-to-mid November for a return to Earth inside Crew Dragon Endeavour off the coast of Florida.

Following Crew-3, the next crew rotation mission is targeted for no earlier than mid-April 2022 with the partner spacecraft and launch vehicle to be determined at a later date.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

NASA Updates Live Coverage of Agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 Return to Earth

Crew-1 astronauts on the ISS
SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts join a video conference from the International Space Station on Feb. 7, 2021. From left are Michael Hopkins of NASA, Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and NASA astronauts Shannon Walker and Victor Glover. Photo credit: NASA

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is now targeting a return to Earth at 11:36 a.m. EDT Saturday, May 1, in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 5:55 p.m. Friday, April 30, to begin the journey home.

NASA and SpaceX agreed to move Crew-1’s undocking and splashdown from Wednesday, April 28, following a review of forecast weather conditions in the splashdown zones off the coast of Florida, which currently predict wind speeds above the recovery criteria. Teams will continue to monitor weather conditions for splashdown ahead of Friday’s planned undocking.

The return to Earth – and activities leading up to the return – will air live on NASA Television, the NASA App, and the agency’s website.

Click here to read the full advisory.

Launch Readiness Review Set for Tuesday, April 20, Followed by Prelaunch News Conference at 8 a.m.

The Crew-2 mission patch.
The NASA SpaceX Crew-2 mission patch.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, April 20, teams will complete the final major review for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission that will launch from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station. At the conclusion of the review, called the Launch Readiness Review (LRR), NASA and SpaceX will confirm the target launch time of 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 22.

About an hour after completion of the LRR, no earlier than 8 a.m., a prelaunch news conference will take place live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Participants are:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy Space Center
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, Johnson Space Center
  • Kirt Costello, chief scientist, International Space Station Program, Johnson
  • Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • Brian Cizek, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron, U.S. Space Force

Media may ask questions via phone only and should contact the Kennedy newsroom for connection details.

Crew-2 mission astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will head to the International Space Station for a six-month science mission in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A. NASA TV coverage of the launch preparations and lift off will begin at 2 a.m. Thursday, April 22. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station Friday, April 23 at approximately 5:30 a.m. EDT.

Crew-2 is the second crew rotation flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the space station and the first carrying two international crew members. The Crew-2 astronauts will join the other members of Expedition 65, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos, for a six-month mission conducting science experiments in low-Earth orbit. An important scientific focus on this expedition is continuing a series of Tissue Chips in Space studies. Tissue chips are small models of human organs containing multiple cell types that behave much the same as they do in the body. The expedition will conduct other microgravity science investigations as well as complete maintenance and upgrades to the space station.

The U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions at the launch pad for lift off of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission based on Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. The primary weather concerns for the launch area will be liftoff winds.

Teams also will monitor weather conditions both for the launch area and downrange for the flight of Crew Dragon.

Follow along with launch activities and get more information about the mission at: http://www.nasa.gov/crew-2. Learn more about commercial crew and space station activities by following: @Commercial_Crew@space_station, and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the Commercial Crew FacebookISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

 

NASA, SpaceX Relocate Crew-1 Dragon; More Crewed Flight Preps Continue

Crew-1 docking and relocating
Crew-1 Dragon relocates from one docking port to another Monday, April 5, in preparation for Crew-2 and future Cargo Dragon arrivals to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV screenshot

NASA, SpaceX, and the Crew-1 astronauts aboard the International Space Station marked a milestone Monday with the relocation of Crew Dragon Resilience from one docking port to another, setting the stage for upcoming crew rotation missions and SpaceX’s next cargo flight to the station.

Crew Dragon relocation
Crew-1 astronauts monitor their Crew Dragon systems during the automated undocking and relocation to a different docking port. Credit: NASA TV screenshot

The planned relocation from the station’s Harmony Node 2 forward docking port to its zenith, or space-facing port, is a first for a commercial crew spacecraft, but demonstrates a task very likely to be commonplace in the future.

The move freed the forward docking adapter ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission, which will deliver the next four astronauts aboard Crew Dragon Endeavour to augment the station’s Expedition 65 crew.

Crew-2 astronauts
From left to right, Crew-2 astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA), Shane Kimbrough (NASA), Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA) and Megan McArthur (NASA) visit SpaceX’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet are scheduled to launch to the station at 6:11 a.m. Eastern, Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and arrive at the station the next day at approximately 5:30 a.m. Crew-2 will be the first commercial crew mission to fly two international partner crew members.

After an approximate five-day shift change, Crew-1 NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, will undock Crew Dragon Resilience at 5 a.m. Wednesday, April 28, and splashdown off the coast of Florida 7.5 hours later at about 12:35 p.m., after 164 days in space. Their return date and time is dependent on having a healthy spacecraft and favorable weather in the selected splashdown zone.

Crew-2 astronauts walk the aisle in SpaceX’s hangar at Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, inspecting their Falcon 9 booster during final processing ahead of their scheduled April 22 launch. Photo credit: SpaceX

A Dragon cargo spacecraft carrying several tons of supplies and the first set of new solar arrays for the space station on SpaceX’s 22nd commercial cargo resupply mission is targeted to launch Thursday, June 3, and requires the space-facing port position to enable robotic extraction of the arrays from Dragon’s trunk using Canadarm2.

NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich talked with Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins and Hopkins Friday about their mission. He also highlighted the 10th anniversary Monday, April 5, of the public-private partnership that returned the launch of astronauts on American spacecraft from the United States.

Crew-2 astronauts
From left to right, Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with ESA’s Thomas Pesquet, and JAXA’s Akihiko Hoshide will be a part of the first commercial crew mission to fly two international partner crew members. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are continuing to prepare for the Crew-3 mission, targeted as early as Saturday, Oct. 23, followed by return of Crew-2 no earlier than Sunday, Oct. 31. These target dates allow NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and the station program to schedule future cargo and crew missions as needed to continue sustaining the orbiting laboratory where hardware and science needs are required.

A trio of astronauts were assigned to the Crew-3 mission last December by NASA and ESA to begin training for the planned six-month science mission.

The trio will consist of NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, who will serve as commander and pilot, respectively, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, who will serve as a mission specialist. A fourth crew member will be added at a later date, following a review by NASA and its international partners.