Two NASA astronauts will fly to the International Space Station on the fourth-ever commercial crew mission on SpaceX in 2022 — and you can follow their adventures on social media in the next year.
Kjell Lindgren — a potential moonbound astronaut for the Artemis program who spoke with "The Martian" stars from orbit in 2015 — will return to space for his second mission. Joining him will be Bob Hines, a research test pilot (much like the famed moonwalker Neil Armstrong) who just graduated to full astronaut status last year after his selection in 2017.
The mission will launch sometime in 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the usual launch site: Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Both astronauts regularly post their training on social media, so you can watch as they get ready for the big flight. The astronauts have already talked about their assignments on Twitter. "So Blessed to get to be a part of this crew," Hines tweeted. Lindgren said he was excited to join Hines in space and to share the journey to launch, adding, "Let's go fly!" You can follow Lindgren on Twitter and Instagram, or Hines on Twitter and Instagram.
More crewmembers will join Hines and Lindgren on Crew Dragon — which holds four people at most — after assignment from international agencies, NASA said in a statement. (The most likely agencies to join them would be from major space station partners Russia, Europe or Japan, as minority partner Canada's next astronaut assignment is expected in 2023.)
Lindgren, the first Taiwanese-born astronaut in space, spent 141 days in space during Expeditions 44 and 45, performing dozens of experiments along with public engagement opportunities such as celebrating Thanksgiving in orbit and being one of the first people to eat plants grown in space. Lindgren's mission also coincided with the one-year mission by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, which continues to generate valuable research about how long stays in space affect the human body.
Lindgren, who was a flight surgeon for space shuttle and space station missions before he was selected for astronaut training in 2009, has a bachelor's degree in biology from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a master's degree in cardiovascular physiology from Colorado State University, and a medical degree from the University of Colorado, NASA said.
Hines is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and is a graduate of the prestigious Air Force Test Pilot school, according to his NASA biography. Before NASA swooped him into astronaut school in 2017, he supported military deployments in several countries, served as a test pilot in the Federal Aviation Administration, and flew as a NASA research pilot. His bachelor's degree is in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama.
Hines posts frequently about flight on Twitter, and was one of the astronauts mourning the loss of Chuck Yeager — the pilot who broke the speed of sound — in December, at age 97. "An American legend, a war hero, and great story-teller. He's ... why I joined the Air Force," Hines tweeted. "I had the honor to meet & talk with him several times. I'll never forget his stories about the Air Corps' 'flesh peddlers!' We will never see another like him. Godspeed General Yeager!"
SpaceX is the first company to send a commercial crew vehicle into space, and put its first two crewed flights into orbit in 2020. Boeing, another company tasked with taxiing astronauts to orbit, is facing continued delays with its Starliner CST-100 spacecraft — but hopes to do a second uncrewed test flight no earlier than April.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.