Test pilot, doctor, German astronaut to fly on 3rd SpaceX Crew Dragon mission to space station

International crew make up Crew-3 mission launching in fall 2021

Pictured from left are NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer. Credits: NASA/ESA (WKMG 2020)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – Building on SpaceX’s first two successful flights to the International Space Station with astronauts, NASA has revealed the fourth round of people to fly commercial to the orbiting laboratory.

Two NASA astronauts, Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn will be joined by European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer for the Crew-3 mission in the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. Selection for a fourth crewmate is still ongoing between NASA and its international partners, according to the space agency.

Chari, a 2017 class astronaut, is also training for NASA’s Artemis program to the moon. He was selected, along with 17 other NASA astronauts, to be among the first to step foot back on the lunar surface--hopefully in the next few years. Crew-3 will mark Chari’s first spaceflight. He is a U.S. Air Force test pilot with more than 2,500 hours of flight time over his career.

Marshburn was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2004. As a medical doctor, he served as the flight surgeon at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and later the medical operations lead for the space station. Crew-3 will mark his third spaceflight.

Maurer is a German astronaut with the ESA. Like Chari, Crew-3 will mark his first spaceflight. According to NASA, he is an engineer and researcher. He previously spent 16 days on an undersea mission with NASA’s NEEMO program. The undersea program helps astronauts train for spacewalks and other space tasks, including sample research.

Crew-3 will mark the fourth overall trip with Dragon to the ISS carrying humans but the third operational long-duration stay, according to NASA.

This year, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley became the first to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 in the capsule to the ISS on a test flight, they returned home in August. Then in November, SpaceX again launched the Crew Dragon but this time with four astronauts-- three American and one Japanese. Those astronauts are still living and working on the ISS and will be until next spring.

Early next year, four astronauts will launch on the Crew-2 mission. That international crew includes NASA’s Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, JAXA’s Akihiko Hoshide and ESA’s Thomas Pesquet. McArthur’s husband, Bob Behnken was on the first crewed test flight of Crew Dragon earlier this year.

The Crew-3 mission is slated for fall 2021.

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