NASA & JAXA Astronaut added to first Operational Dragon Mission
Space X's first rotational Crew Mission to the International Space Station, following DM-2, has just added two new Members, making the total roster, a crew of four. This will make the first time more than three humans have launched to Low Earth Orbit since Space Shuttle Atlantis's final mission in 2011.
On the morning of March 31st, 2020, NASA & JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) respectively released Press Statements announcing the additions of American Astronaut, Shannon Walker, and Japanese Astronaut, Soichi Noguchi to the first Operational Space X Crew mission to the International Space Station. They will be joining NASA Astronauts Michael Hopkins & Victor Glover Jr. who were previously assigned to the mission in August of 2018.
The mission, currently referenced as SpaceX Crew-1, is set to follow the (yet to be) historic success of DM-2, with Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, which is currently targeting a mid-May lift-off.
SpaceX Crew-1, will launch the four-person crew to the International Space Station from LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, on board the Space X Falcon 9 rocket. The crew, now including Walker & Noguchi, are currently undergoing Commercial Crew Program spaceflight training, and will continue to develop their skills in Dragon vehicle operation, Extra-vehicular Activities, and ISS maintenance in the coming moths. The first of the contracted Space X expeditions, will see Walker, Noguchi, Hopkins, and Glover Jr. stay on station for 6 months, and preform of variety of tasks and objectives important to the overall ISS mission beginning with the relief and rotation of the crew which welcomes them. Space X, under the Commercial Crew will join in tandem with commercial and international partners, such as Boeing and Roscosmos, in holding the responsibility of human transportation to and from Low Earth Orbit.
The inclusion of Walker & Noguchi to the mission is a strategic one on the part of both NASA & JAXA. Walker, a career Aeropsace flight controller & NASA Astronaut, has spent a total of 163 days in space, and has previously operated on board the ISS twice. Noguchi, who previously flew on board the Space Shuttle on STS-114, and the Russian Soyuz for Expeditions 22 and 23, will also be making a third time visit to Low Earth Orbit.
SpaceX Crew-1, pending the success of DM-2, is currently targeting a late 2020 timeframe for liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Are you excited to see this four-person crew climb atop a Space X Falcon 9? Do you think they will fly in 2020? Be sure to comment below and share on Social Media to let us know!
NASA Press Release: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-adds-shannon-walker-to-first-operational-crewed-spacex-mission
JAXA Press Release: https://global.jaxa.jp/press/2020/03/20200331-1_e.html
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