SpaceX Sends Third Astronaut Crew to International Space Station
(Bloomberg) -- SpaceX launched its third crew of astronauts to the International Space Station, the latest in a series of transport missions for NASA as the agency works to get a rival shuttle from Boeing Co. back on track.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon “Endurance” lifted off at 9:03 p.m. ET Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Aboard the Crew-3 mission: Commander Raja Chari, 44, a former Navy test pilot from Iowa; Dr. Thomas Marshburn, 61, the mission’s pilot and a former emergency room physician; Kayla Barron, 34, a former Navy submarine officer who is serving as mission specialist; and Matthias Maurer, 51, a research engineer from Germany who joined the European Space Agency in 2010.
It’s the first time in space for all of the crew members except Marshburn, who has been to the station twice, in July 2009 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour and in December 2012 on the Russian Soyuz capsule.
With the latest launch, SpaceX’s Dragon system has ferried 14 astronauts to the station since its first demonstration flight with humans in May 2020. That track record has also made SpaceX one of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s favorite contractors, with the agency selecting SpaceX to develop a human lander system for its Artemis moon program.
Beyond the NASA trips, four private adventurers flew with the company in September for a three-day orbital trip. SpaceX plans its next private mission early next year, flying four people to the space station in a multi-day sojourn for Axiom Space Inc.
As SpaceX reaches the halfway mark on its six-launch contract with NASA’s commercial crew program, Boeing is still working to ready its competing CST-100 Starliner vehicle in the first half of 2022 after a sticky valve issue halted a planned August test flight.
Boeing’s issues with valves are the most recent setback for its spacecraft. Previously, the company heavily revamped software systems on the Starliner after a botched December 2019 test flight left the craft without sufficient propellant to reach the station.
Boeing announced a $185 million charge last month to cover the craft’s development expenses, the second impairment on the Starliner after a $410 million charge early last year.
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