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NASA, SpaceX target Oct. 23 for Crew-3 astronaut launch

NASA astronaut Raja Chari, European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, plus a fourth crewmember yet to be announced, will fly on SpaceX's Crew-3 mission, now targeting launch no earlier than Oct. 23, 2021.
NASA astronaut Raja Chari, European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, plus a fourth crewmember yet to be announced, will fly on SpaceX's Crew-3 mission, now targeting launch no earlier than Oct. 23, 2021. (Image credit: NASA/ESA)

NASA and SpaceX have announced that the pair's autumn mission to send four astronauts to the International Space Station will launch no earlier than Oct. 23.

The decision comes as the two organizations are preparing for the preceding astronaut launch, called Crew-2, which is currently scheduled for April 22 and which will carry crewmembers from three different space agencies to the orbiting laboratory: NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

The October launch, dubbed Crew-3, will also carry four astronauts to the orbiting laboratory for a six-month stay. NASA has already announced that the flight will carry U.S. astronauts Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer; the fourth crewmember has yet to be identified publicly.

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In conjunction with the Oct. 23 launch window for Crew-3, Crew-2 will return to Earth no earlier than Oct. 31, giving the two cohorts about a week of overlap to transition the space station safely to its next residents.

The Crew-3 flight will be SpaceX's third full-fledged crewed mission for NASA; the company also launched two veteran astronauts on a two-month demonstration mission in May 2020.

SpaceX is one of two companies working with NASA's Commercial Crew Program to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner vehicle will also begin making such flights once it completes test flights, perhaps this year.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Meghan Bartels
SPACE.COM SENIOR WRITER — Meghan is a science journalist based in New York City. She joined Space.com in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.

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