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NASA’s first true SpaceX Crew Dragon mission has a date

Published Sep 29th, 2020 4:26PM EDT
crew dragon mission
Image: AP/Shutterstock

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  • SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will finally be used on an official NASA science mission to the International Space Station.
  • The launch of four astronauts is now planned for October 31st, which happens to be Halloween.
  • The mission will be the first after NASA certifies Crew Dragon for continued use, and it’ll be a big milestone for NASA, SpaceX, and the Commercial Crew program.

NASA spent years waiting for SpaceX to finish the Crew Dragon spacecraft so that it could once again launch astronauts into space from US soil. It finally realized that dream back in May when the final test mission of the Crew Dragon sent astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station.

The mission was a success, with the crew members arriving safely and the Crew Dragon performing as intended, but it wasn’t an official science mission. That launch was the final test mission, and now that NASA plans to fully certify Crew Dragon it can begin using it as it sees fit. Now, NASA finally has a date for its “SpaceX Crew-1” mission to the ISS, and it’s sooner than you might think.

As NASA reveals in a new blog post, the space agency is now targeting Saturday, October 31st for the first fully crewed mission of the SpaceX spacecraft. The mission is tentatively slated for a launch at 2:40 a.m. EDT on that Saturday, which also happens to be Halloween.

Unlike the previous Crew Dragon launch which included just two astronauts, this trip to the International Space Station will be flown by a full complement of four astronauts. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker will be joined by Soichi Noguchi of JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

It’s worth noting that Crew Dragon still hasn’t officially been certified for continued use by NASA, though at this point that eventual certification is assumed. “NASA is in the final stages of the data reviews needed ahead of certification following the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight,” NASA explains. “Teams from NASA and SpaceX will provide an update on the process during upcoming media briefings beginning at 11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 29, hosted from the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.”

The Commercial Crew program, despite facing many delays and setbacks, has turned out well for NASA. Sure, Boeing still hasn’t managed to get its Starliner to the space station yet, but it’ll probably get its act together soon, and in the meantime, SpaceX seems all too willing to facilitate NASA’s ambitions and the Crew Dragon has performed well. The launch on Halloween will still be a big test and a huge milestone for both NASA and SpaceX, but at this point, there’s no reason to believe that it’ll be anything other than a huge success.

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