The passenger list for SpaceX’s first operational mission is now complete.
NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and Japanese spaceflight Soichi Noguchi will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) on board the SpaceX spacecraft Crew Dragon, officials said today (March 31). The duo will join NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover Jr. and increase the total crew size to four.
It is unclear when the quartet’s mission will begin. This is followed by SpaceX’s first ever crewed mission, a test flight called Demo-2, which will take NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to and from the ISS. Demo-2 is planned for Start mid to late May.
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Crew Dragon has already visited the orbit laboratory once, in March 2019 on an unoccupied mission called Demo-1.
SpaceX has signed a $ 2.6 billion NASA contract to fly six ISS operational missions with Crew Dragon and the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. Boeing is holding a similar $ 4.2 billion deal that the aerospace giant will fulfill with a capsule called “The” CST-100 Starliner.
But Starliner is not yet ready to put astronauts in orbit. The capsule had several software problems last December during its demo 1 version called Orbital Flight Test (OFT). Starliner landed in an orbit that was too low and came to Earth without meeting the rotating laboratory.
NASA has not yet announced whether Boeing should fly another version of OFT or allow the company to go directly to a crew test flight.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for strange life. Follow him on Twitter @ Michaeleldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.