NASA details plan for first regular SpaceX Crew Dragon launch to ISS

NASA has shared details on the latest evolution in its Commercial Crew program, stating that it will work with SpaceX to conduct the first regular rotation mission launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Called the SpaceX Crew-1 mission, the launch will take place no sooner than October 23 and will include a total of four astronauts from NASA and JAXA.

The four astronauts who will travel to the International Space Station will include NASA commander Michael Hopkins, mission specialists Shannon Walker, and pilot Victor Glover. Joining them is Soichi Noguchi, a mission specialist from Japan’s JAXA agency. All four will spend half a year on the ISS, where they’ll work on various scientific missions.

The launch will take place from Cape Canaveral in Florida using a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX. This is the first operational flight featuring astronauts on board, kicking off what will be a milestone moment for NASA and the return of astronaut launches from US soil.

This launch will follow the SpaceX Demo-2 test flight that successfully sent two astronauts to the ISS in May and then safely returned them earlier this month. This marked the first time that a spacecraft owned and operated by a commercial aerospace company had conducted a crewed test flight.

NASA explains that there are multiple reasons for the late October mission launch, including general spacecraft traffic that will be taking place in the coming weeks. It is possible the launch may end up taking place at a later date, but that is yet to be seen.

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