After discussions with international partners, NASA has selected four astronauts who will be a part of a SpaceX mission to the International Space Station in 2021, with the crew being brought to the station via a capsule made and operated by SpaceX.
The crew will consist of veterans of previous ISS missions, including JAXA’s Akihiko Hoshide, European Space Agency’s Thomas Perequed, and Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, who are NASA astronauts. The major goal of the mission is to increase the overall staff size on the ISS.
The Crew-2 mission
By taking four astronauts into space during the Crew-2 mission, the number of staff available on the ISS will increase to seven. More astronauts will allow NASA and other partner space agencies to conducted a considerably higher amount of science experiments in space, which is a great boon for future research.
At this point, there are five people on the ISS. Two are Russian astronauts, while the other three are NASA astronauts. Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley arrived at the ISS last month aboard the Crew Dragon capsule developed by SpaceX.
The successful flight marked the first commercial vehicle that carried a human crew into orbit and the first crewed launch that took place in America since the Space Shuttle Program was retired almost a decade ago, forcing NASA to pay expensive fees for seats aboard flights operated by Rocosmos in the meantime.
Behnken and Hurley will return to Earth in aboard the Crew Dragon during the weekend. If everything goes according to plan, NASA will award an official certification for the Crew Dragon Capsule, paving the way for a new and more complex mission towards the ISS that should be launched before the end of September.
SpaceX will also have the permission to sell extra seats on its spacecraft, bringing space tourism closer to reality.