NASA is preparing for its SpaceX Crew-2 mission, which will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida no earlier than April 20.
According to The Indian Express, SpaceX Crew-2’s four astronauts will fly aboard the aerospace company’s Crew Dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. The mission marks the first time in over 20 years that astronauts from NASA, the European Space Agency, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have flown together.
The four-person crew includes astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet. They will stay at ISS for approximately six months before returning back to Earth.
NASA says that attached to a Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon will reach speeds of over 28,000 kmph putting it on an intercept course with the US space agency’s orbiting laboratory. Once the spacecraft is in orbit, it will be monitored by the crew and SpaceX mission control helping it guide to the space station. NASA says that the spacecraft will dock autonomously to the space station. The astronauts will also have the ability to switch to manual control to dock the spacecraft.
The Crew-2 is expected to return back to Earth sometime from September end to December this year. After undocking and re-entering the earth’s atmosphere it is likely to splashdown near Florida’s coast from where a SpaceX recovery vessel will bring it back to the land to return to Houston.