SpaceX, NASA targeting Halloween for next astronaut launch to space station

3 NASA, 1 European astronauts launching in Crew Dragon

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon space capsule lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, April 23, 2021. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – It won’t be a costume when four astronauts put on their flight suits this Halloween as they prepare to launch with SpaceX.

The next four astronauts --three NASA and one from the European Space Agency-- launching on a long-term mission to the International Space Station are possibly blasting off Oct. 31, according to the latest target date from NASA and SpaceX.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch with the Crew Dragon spacecraft will mark the fourth flight, and third long-duration mission, under NASA’s Commerical Crew Program.

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NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer make up the Crew-3 mission and will launch from Kennedy Space Center launchpad 39A, spending six months on the ISS conducting research.

The latest launch date is subject to change but it won’t be the first time NASA has targeted a liftoff under the Commercial Crew Program on All Hallows’ Eve. The first operational Crew Dragon mission, Crew-1, was also scheduled to launch on Oct. 31, 2020, under a full moon but the liftoff was eventually pushed to November.

The Crew-2 astronauts, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, of NASA, JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, arrived at the ISS in late April and are scheduled to return to Earth in early-to-mid November, according to the latest schedule. When they do return, the Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft will splashdown off the coast of Florida.

Between the Crew-3 liftoff and Crew-2 astronauts’ splashdown SpaceX also has its first all-private Crew Dragon launch planned for September known as the Inspiration 4 mission. That modified spacecraft won’t be docking at the ISS. Businessman Jared Isaacman and three contest winners will orbit the Earth in a modified Crew Dragon capsule.

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