NASA and private aerospace company SpaceX plan to launch their first regular manned mission to the International Space Station no later than Oct. 23, the U.S. space agency announced Friday.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after a splashdown following a successful two-month test mission to the ISS.
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will carry Crew-1’s four astronauts, Americans Michael Hopkins, the crew’s commander, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese Soichi Noguchi, to the orbital laboratory for a six-month mission of research and tasks, NASA said in a blog on its website.
Crew-1 originally was to launch atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida in late September, CNBC said, but the mission was delayed “to accommodate spacecraft traffic for the upcoming Soyuz crew rotation and best meet the needs of the International Space Station.”
A Russian Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft carrying American astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov is to arrive at the ISS – and American Chris Cassidy and Russians Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner are to depart – prior to Crew-1’s launch.
The Crew-1 mission is still pending review of data and certification of the two-man Demo-2 test operation, the first crewed flight of a commercially owned and operated space rocket and capsule. The half-year Crew-1 mission will overlap with NASA/SpaceX’s Crew-2 launch, scheduled for next spring.
The launches are to be the first of regular rotational missions that will end the United States’ dependence on Russia to send and return astronauts from the ISS.