NASA and ESA name three astronauts for SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the ISS, one seat open for now

NASA and ESA have announced which three astronauts will train and become crew members for SpaceX Crew-3 mission in 2021. The mission, which is expected to launch sometime in the fall next year, will carry the three selected astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft.

  • NASA astronaut Raja Chari will serve as the commander
  • ESA astronaut Tom Marshburn will serve as pilot
  • ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer will serve as a mission specialist

The mission is especially a big deal for both Maurer and Chari; Crew-3 will mark their first flight to space and the ISS. Raja Chari is also among the 18 astronauts who will train for NASA’s Artemis Moon missions.

A fourth crew member will be selected at a later time following a review by NASA. It’s possible NASA is holding the fourth seat open for a Russian cosmonaut. NASA hopes to trade seats on its Commercial Crew flights with Roscosmos, Russian’s space program, but no agreement has been reached yet.

The Crew-3 mission will be SpaceX’s third crew rotation using its human space transportation system for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA’s program aims to provide safe and reliable access to the ISS and low-Earth orbit.

All four astronauts who will be part of Crew-3 will live and work onboard the ISS for roughly six months after arriving. During their time on the space station, they will be responsible for carrying out a handful of scientific experiments and operations.

ESA director general Jan Wörner had this to say on the international partnership between ESA and NASA, making Crew-3 possible;

“Two European missions in 2021 will enable us to carry out even more vital science and research in collaboration with our international partners. I’m delighted to see this great collaboration continuing more than 20 years after the first crew was launched.”

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