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SpaceX, NASA target Halloween launch for Crew-3 astronaut flight to space station

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron. Credit: SpaceX
SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron. Credit: SpaceX (Image credit: SpaceX)

NASA's next space station launch is set for Halloween and will put four more astronauts into space on a SpaceX rocket.

The Crew-3 launch is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 31 at 2:21 a.m. EDT (0721 GMT), using a Falcon 9 rocket. The launch will take place at Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA Television and SpaceX broadcast details will be released at a later date.

Riding to the orbiting complex on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will be NASA astronauts Raja Chari (mission commander), Tom Marshburn (pilot), and Kayla Barron (mission specialist), as well as European Space Agency astronaut and mission specialist Matthias Maurer.

Related: Crew-3 astronauts are ready and excited for 6-month SpaceX mission

If for whatever reason the crew cannot make it to space on the prime launch date, the next backup launch time would be 1:10 a.m. EDT (0610 GMT) on Wednesday, Nov. 3. All timing is subject to change depending on weather, technical matters and other factors.

"Launch on Oct. 31 would have Crew-3 arriving at the space station early on the morning of Monday, Nov. 1, for a short handover with the astronauts who flew to the station in April as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission," NASA said in a statement

The launch had been delayed from Oct. 23 due to station traffic from other spacecraft and was previously scheduled to launch on Oct. 31 before NASA and SpaceX moved it to Oct. 30

While the return date of Crew-2 has yet to be finalized, NASA says the likely splashdown date will be in early November, at one of seven landing zones nearby the coast of Florida. Coming back to Earth will be NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

Expedition 66 will continue on the space station even after Crew-2's departure, with Expedition 67 expected to start no earlier than April 2022. SpaceX's next launch, Crew-4, would likely happen in the same month.

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.