64ºF

Astronauts name Dragon spacecraft Resilience, prepare for November launch

Launch scheduled for no earlier than November from Kennedy Space Center

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The next astronauts to launch from Kennedy Space Center will begin their journey into space on the SpaceX Dragon capsule named Resilience.

The launch is currently targeted for sometime in November, according to NASA, delayed from Oct. 31.

NASA said American astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi will catch a ride to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket.

Hopkins, Walker and Noguchi are veteran space explorers. This will be the first spaceflight for Glover, who will pilot the spacecraft with Hopkins as commander.

The American and Japanese astronaut crew will work on science missions while living and working on the orbiting laboratory for six months. They have been training to fly in the SpaceX Dragon spaceship together at the company’s headquarters in California.

“We have a ton of fun training together,” Glover said.

[MORE COVERAGE: What needs to happen before SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour flies astronauts again? | Private boaters swarmed SpaceX spacecraft landing site]

Glover, a California native, will become the first Black astronaut to serve as an expedition crew member living on the space station.

“It’s bittersweet and I can’t tell you why it’s taken us this long but I hope to do my job to the best of my ability,” Glover said when asked about why it’s taken this long for the milestone.

Oct. 31 marks the 20th anniversary of the first expedition mission.

On Tuesday, Hopkins revealed the astronauts have named their spacecraft Resilience. The first Crew Dragon to launch humans was named Endeavour by its passengers, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

“I think all of us can agree that 2020 has certainly been a challenging year -- global pandemic, economic hardships, civil unrest, isolation -- and despite all of that SpaceX and NASA has kept the production line open and finished this amazing vehicle," Hopkins said.

While on station, the three American astronauts plan to cast their votes in the 2020 Election from space, said Walker.

The astronauts will be sent a PDF file to mark their votes and then send the ballots back to Earth.

“It’s very simple, very straight forward,” Walker said of the process.

NASA and SpaceX teams are in the final stages of data reviews needed ahead of certification following the first operational mission for the private company’s spacecraft, known as Crew-1.

SpaceX successfully launched two astronauts to the ISS and brought them home this summer, marking the first human spaceflight from Florida’s coast since 2011.

The Crew-1 astronauts said Behnken and Hurley offered helpful advice and information about flying in a Dragon, particularly about the splashdown when returning to Earth.

Behnken described how the spacecraft “came alive” to reporters shortly after the August historic splashdown off Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“It doesn’t sound like a machine," Behnken said. "It sounds like an animal coming through the atmosphere.”

Subscribe to a weekly newsletter to receive the latest in space news directly to your inbox here.


About the Author: