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NASA, Japan add 2 more astronauts to SpaceX's 1st operational Crew Dragon flight

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-2 mission at Florida’s Space Coast on Feb. 13, 2020.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-2 mission at Florida’s Space Coast on Feb. 13, 2020.
(Image: © SpaceX)

The passenger list for SpaceX's first operational crewed mission is now complete.

NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and Japanese spaceflyer Soichi Noguchi will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft on that voyage, officials announced today (March 31). The duo will join NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover Jr., bringing the total crew size up to four.

It's unclear when the quartet's mission will launch. It will follow SpaceX's first-ever crewed mission, a test flight called Demo-2 that will carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to and from the ISS. Demo-2 is scheduled to launch in mid- to late May

Video: Watch SpaceX's Demo-2 Crew Dragon spin in a critical prelaunch test

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NASA astronaut Shannon Walker looks at Earth from the International Space Station in November 2010.

NASA astronaut Shannon Walker looks at Earth from the International Space Station in November 2010. (Image credit: NASA)
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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi poses for a photo on the International Space Station in February 2010.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi poses for a photo on the International Space Station in February 2010. (Image credit: NASA)
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NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly on the first SpaceX Dragon mission.

NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly on the first operational SpaceX Dragon mission. (Image credit: NASA)

Crew Dragon has already visited the orbiting lab once, in March 2019 on an uncrewed mission called Demo-1.

SpaceX holds a $2.6 billion NASA contract to fly six operational ISS missions with Crew Dragon and the company's Falcon 9 rocket. Boeing holds a similar deal, worth $4.2 billion, which the aerospace giant will fulfill using a capsule called the CST-100 Starliner.

But Starliner isn't yet ready to carry astronauts to orbit. The capsule suffered several software issues during its version of Demo-1, called Orbital Flight Test (OFT), this past December. Starliner ended up getting stranded in too low an orbit and came down to Earth without rendezvousing with the orbiting lab. 

NASA has not yet announced whether it will require Boeing to fly another version of OFT or allow the company to proceed directly to a crewed test flight.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook

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