Meet the third round of astronauts who will launch on SpaceX Dragon

Group includes veteran NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, oceanographer and wife of Bob Behnken

The members of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station. Picture from left are NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet. Credits: NASA (wkmg 2020)

NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, one of first two astronauts to launch on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, will have some pretty good words of advice for the next astronauts to launch on the new space capsule, including fellow veteran astronaut Megan McArthur, who just so happens to be his wife.

McArthur, will be on the second operational mission of Crew Dragon, along with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA announced on Tuesday. The crew will spend six months on the International Space Station after their arrival.

Here’s where the crew lines up in Dragon’s upcoming schedule, several launches and landings need to go smoothly before the international astronaut crew can strap in for liftoff.

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First up, Behnken and NASA Astronaut Doug Hurley must return to Earth after becoming the first to catch a ride to the International Space Station on Dragon. The pair are set to splash down in their capsule on either Florida coast on Aug. 2. This mission is called Demo-2 because it was test flight and marked the first time Americans launched from U.S. soil in nearly nine years.

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In this image taken from NASA video on Monday, June 1, 2020, NASA astronauts Robert L. Behnken, left, and Chris Cassidy right, listen as commander Douglas Hurley speaks about retrieving the American flag left behind at the International Space Station nearly a decade ago. (NASA via AP)

Next, if the splashdown and return home happens on time, three NASA astronauts and a Japanese astronaut will launch on another Crew Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center.

NASA previously selected astronaut Victor Glover as pilot and astronaut Michael Hopkins as Dragon commander. Later NASA added two more crew members, NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

This will be the first operation mission for Dragon, known as Crew-1. That launch is slated for late September.

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Then, McArthur, Kimbrough, Hoshide and Pesquet will be next in the queue to liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in the Dragon capsule. This will be known as Crew-2, the second operational mission to the ISS for the SpaceX astronaut spacecraft.

This won’t be the first spaceflight for the astronauts, all four have previous spaceflights on their impressive resumes, but it will be their first ride on the Dragon spacecraft.

McArthur has a Ph.D. in oceanography and served as chief scientist on underwater diving missions with Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She flew on one space shuttle mission, the fifth and final repair mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. The astronaut couple will have one more thing in common after they both fly on Dragon as Behnken and McArthur both flew on Hubble repair missions.

Kimbrough previously visited the ISS on two long-duration missions. This will be his third spacecraft. The retired U.S. Army colonel flew on space shuttle Endeavour in 2008 and then on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2016.

Dragon will also mark JAXA astronaut Hoshide’s third spaceflight and spacecraft. He previously flew on space shuttle Discovery in 2008 and on the Russian Soyuz in 2012.

European Space Agency astronaut Pesquet completes the crew and has completed two previous ISS stays. He arrived both times via the Soyuz spacecraft.

Pesquet, of France, said in a tweet the crew has already started training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

The Crew-2 launch is slated for spring 2021.

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