NASA and SpaceX prepare for the first operational crewed mission in October

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NASA and SpaceX have set a specific target date, October 23, for the first operational crewed mission with four astronauts aboard for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. It is named Crew 1 and will carry will carry astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi to the International Space Station. NASA says the late October date is to allow for the upcoming Soyuz spacecraft traffic from Russia to the ISS. The launch time could be adjusted slightly as the International Space Station’s orbit changes due to aerodynamic drag and possible reboost maneuvers. All is expected to go well.

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Crew-2 should take place next spring, bringing up four more astronauts to relieve the Crew-1 astronauts for another tour of science and Space Station operations. SpaceX is under contract with NASA for at least six “post-certification” crew rotation missions to the space station through 2024. Since 2011, NASA has committed more than $3.1 billion to SpaceX for development, testing and operational flights of the commercial Crew Dragon spacecraft. Russian engineers are readying the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft for launch Oct. 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with Russian commander Sergey Ryzhikov, cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins. Two U.S. resupply missions are also scheduled for launch to the space station before the end of the year. Boeing is also gearing up for a second unpiloted test flight of its Starliner crew capsule late this year.