Falcon 9 Launches Crew-2 to International Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide onboard, Friday, April 23, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A previously flown SpaceX Falcon 9 launched four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft making its second trip to space on Friday.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur – who serve as the mission’s spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively – are in orbit along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut  Akihiko  Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

The on-time liftoff at 5:49 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center lit up the pre-dawn Florida sky as the rocket arced to the northeast over the Atlantic Ocean.

Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed successfully on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship in the ocean.

The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station at about 5:10 a.m. on Saturday, April 24. NASA will provide coverage of the arrive on NASA TV and the space agency’s website, www.nasa.gov.

A post-launch news conference will begin at approximately 7:30 a.m. EDT with the following participants:

  • Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • SpaceX representative

The arrival of Crew-2 on Saturday will begin a four-day overlap with the four-member Crew-1, which has been on board the station for 160 days. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, will undock Crew Dragon Resilience on Wednesday, April 28, at 5 a.m. and splashdown off the coast of Florida 7.5 hours later at about 12:35 p.m.

Crew-1’s return date and time are dependent on having a healthy spacecraft and favorable weather in the selected splashdown zone.