SpaceX's second operational astronaut flight, Crew-2, is set to launch to the International Space Station on April 22. Crew-2 includes NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Crew-2 is scheduled to lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:11 a.m. EDT (1011 GMT) on April 22 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour, carried by a Falcon 9 rocket. Click the arrow at right for more photos from the astronaut mission.
Crew Dragon Training
Crew-2's four crewmembers are photographed inside a mockup of the Crew Dragon vehicle at SpaceX's training facility in Hawthorne, California. The crew is scheduled to arrive at the space station at 5:30 a.m. EDT (0930 GMT) on April 23 and will spend about six months on the orbiting lab.
When they arrive at the ISS, the Crew-2 astronauts will join the Expedition 65 crew, which consists of NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Mark Vande Hei; JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi; and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. Hopkins, Glover, Walker and Noguchi launched on SpaceX's Crew-1 mission in November 2020 and are scheduled to return to Earth on April 28.
SpaceX Crew-2 Pilot
NASA astronaut Megan McArthur will serve as the Crew-2 pilot. McArthur previously flew aboard NASA's space shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on STS-125, which was the final servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. During that mission, which lasted nearly 13 days, McArthur operated the robotic arm aboard the shuttle to grab the telescope and to assist her crewmates during spacewalks.
McArthur is married to NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, who was one of two astronauts to fly on SpaceX's first human spaceflight — Crew Dragon's Demo-2 mission to the ISS, which launched in May 2020. (The other Demo-2 astronaut was NASA's Doug Hurley.)
SpaceX Crew-2 Commander
Donning a training pressure suit and face mask, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, the Crew-2 commander, is photographed during a SpaceX training session in Hawthorne, California. Kimbrough has previously flown on two space missions, including STS-126 — when he flew to the space station aboard NASA's space shuttle Endeavour in 2008 — and as part of the Expedition 49/50 long-duration mission to the station in 2016. Kimbrough has spent a total of 189 days in space and performed six spacewalks.
Mission Specialist Akihiko Hoshide
JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide is photographed wearing a pressure suit during training activities at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Hoshide will serve as mission specialist for Crew-2 alongside ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Hoshide has flown to space twice before: first in 2008 for STS-124, when he flew aboard the space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station, and again in 2012, when he flew to the space station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. During his 2008 mission, Hoshide delivered Japan's "Kibo" experiment module, JAXA's first contribution to the ISS program, which allows astronauts to perform scientific research experiments in a pressurized chamber.
Mission Specialist Thomas Pesquet
ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is photographed in the cockpit of the mock SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule at the company's training facility in Hawthorne, California. Pesquet is also a space veteran, having flown once before as part of the space station's Expeditions 50 and 51 crew.
Pesquet actually has the most time logged on ISS of the Crew-2 team, having spent 197 days aboard the station from 2016 to 2017. During that previous mission, he operated the station's robotic arm to capture two cargo spacecraft and assist docking them to the station.
Inside Crew Dragon
The Crew-2 astronauts are photographed together again inside the mockup of the Crew Dragon vehicle — this time, sans spacesuits. Instead, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur (Crew-2 pilot) sports playful owl socks while sitting inside the capsule. The crew members are also shown wearing masks as they prepare for their upcoming flight together at SpaceX's training facility in Hawthorne, California.
Crew Dragon Cockpit Training
JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet — both Crew-2 mission specialists — are photographed together during cockpit training using computer simulations at SpaceX's training facility in Hawthorne, California.
Crew-2 officially began quarantining on April 8 in preparation to launch to the space station on April 22. The astronauts have the option to quarantine at NASA's Johnson Space Center or at home, if they are able to maintain quarantine conditions. The crew also took precautions by wearing face masks during training sessions at the SpaceX training facility in Hawthorne, California.
"Spending the final two weeks before liftoff in quarantine will help ensure the Crew-2 crew is healthy, protecting themselves and the astronauts already on the space station," NASA officials said in a statement.
Ready for Launch
Crew-2 is the second long-duration SpaceX Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station and the company's third overall crewed orbital flight. The Crew-1 astronauts, who are currently living on the space station, recently made room for the incoming crew to dock with the orbiting lab.
NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, relocated their Crew Dragon Resilience capsule so that Crew-2 would be able to dock at the forward port of the space station's Harmony module on April 23. Crew-1 is scheduled to return to Earth on April 28.
The official portrait of the SpaceX Crew-2 crew members, including (from left to right) NASA astronaut and Pilot Megan McArthur, ESA astronaut and Mission Specialist Thomas Pesquet, JAXA astronaut and Mission Specialist Akihiko Hoshide, and NASA astronaut and Commander Shane Kimbrough.
Crew-2 will spend about six months on the orbiting lab and conduct science research in areas ranging from medical technology to human health and materials to benefit life on Earth, according to NASA.
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Samantha Mathewson joined Space.com as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.