Investing in Space

SpaceX and NASA plan to launch first full length astronaut mission in late October

Key Points
  • NASA announced on Friday that the SpaceX Crew-1 mission aims to launch no earlier than Oct. 23.
  • Crew-1 will be the first full length astronaut mission for SpaceX, with four people launching in a Crew Dragon capsule to spend six months on the International Space Station.
  • The timeline for Crew-1 also means that capsule will be docked until late April, overlapping with the SpaceX Crew-2 mission set to launch in spring 2021.
NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 crew members seated in the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft during training. From left to right: NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Oliver and Mike Hopkins, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX plan to launch the company's first full mission with astronauts no earlier than Oct. 23, the agency announced on Friday.

Known as Crew-1, the mission will see three U.S. astronauts and one Japanese astronaut launch in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station. There they will spend six months at the space station, conducting research and performing tasks.

The Crew Dragon capsule will carry NASA's Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and JAXA's Soichi Noguchi. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will lift the capsule arrived in Florida in July, to prepare for the Crew-1 launch. 

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NASA and SpaceX had previously planned to launch Crew-1 in late September. The one month delay is due to "spacecraft traffic," NASA said, as a Russian Soyuz spacecraft is set to launch to the ISS in October. The agency also said that pushing back the Crew-1 launch will allow "for a crew handover" on board the space station. The six month timeline for Crew-1 means that capsule will be docked until late April, overlapping with the SpaceX Crew-2 mission set to launch in spring 2021.

Demo-2 reviews ongoing

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft splashes down in the Gulf of Mexico with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard on August 2, 2020.
NASA TV

The announcement comes about two weeks after the successful completion of the SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, which carried a pair of NASA astronauts in the company's first ever crewed mission. The two organizations are currently reviewing data from the Demo-2 mission. Assuming no major issues are found, NASA will then certify SpaceX's rocket and capsule system to regulrly fly astronauts to the ISS.

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