Launching October 31st at 2:21 AM Est from LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center
With the Launch of Crew-3 only three days away it’s a good time to go over the four astronauts that will be launching to the ISS (International Space Station). Using a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that rides atop their Falcon 9 rocket this will be the third operational launch of astronauts under contract with NASA. This of course does not include the DM-2 mission where astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley first flew the Crew Dragon to the ISS. That mission was considered a test flight.
Though the capsule is capable of flying up to seven humans at a time, NASA has only been flying four for their rotations onboard the space station. For this mission the four members of the crew flying are ESA astronauts Matthias Maurer, and NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron. Barron was the last selected for the mission as there was anticipation a Russian cosmonaut would be flying along on this mission but in May of 2021 when she was selected there was still no agreement with the Russians.
Commander Raja Chari, at 44 years old is the first rookie commercial crew astronaut. Joining the astronaut corps in 2017 this is his first space flight. After graduating MIT with a masters degree in aeronautics and astronautics he has logged over 2,500 hours flying and a test pilot from the U.S. Navy test pilot school. At Edwards Air Force Base Chari was commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and went on to become Director of the Joint Test Team for NASA’s commercial crew program. In 2020 he was on of the eighteen astronauts selected to be part of the agency’s return to the Moon program, meaning he will likely later fly on the SLS and possibly step foot on our Moon.
Next up is Tom Marshburn. At age 61 Dr. Marshburn is the only veteran of spaceflight on the Crew-3 mission, and will serve as pilot to the dragon capsule. Selected as an astronaut in 2004 Marshburn has two spaceflights under his belt. STS-127, and Expedition 34/35. He is a physician trained in emergency medicine and when he began his career with NASA in 1994 he was a flight surgeon. During his time with the agency he was promoted to Medical Operations Lead for the ISS and has logged more than 367 hours in space and just about nineteen hours of spacewalks during three separate walks outside the space station. One of those space walks, in 2012 with Chris Cassidy was during an emergency to fix an ammonia leak. Once aboard the ISS he will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 66.
At 34 years old Kayla Barron has never witnessed a rocket launch up close, so this flight, her flight will be her first launch all around. Also selected to be an astronaut in 2017 she is serving in the role as a mission specialist for the Crew-3 mission. Part of her duties include monitoring the Crew Dragon’s launch and reentry phases during flight to make sure everything is nominal. Once onboard the space station she will also serve as a flight engineer. Barron is a graduate of the U.S. Naval academy and earned her master’s degree in Nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge, she is also one of the first class of women to have been commissioned as a submarine officer for the U.S. Navy. She is also one of those eighteen astronauts who has potential to walk on the Moon’s surface one day in the near future.
Our last member of the crew for this mission is Matthias Maurer. A German astronaut with ESA (European Space Agency). Joining Europe’s astronaut corps in 2017, he studied materials engineering and started out as a crew support engineer before graduating to astronaut candidate in 2015. Prior to that Maurer to part in several analogue missions where he would live in remote locations/conditions with others to test technologies and strategies that NASA and its partners will use for future missions on Mars. At age 51, he is the second oldest flying this mission, and have the honor and distinction of becoming the sexcentarian space traveler. That’s to say he will be the 600th person to fly into space.
Crew-3 will also mark the second time that astronauts fly to space using a reflown Falcon 9 rocket booster. That booster rolled out to the launch pad early this morning, but was first flown in June when it send a Cargo Dragon to the orbiting space station above. These four will join the seven other astronauts already living on the International Space Station and will stay for six months where will will work and live conducting experiments and completing scientific research.
Tomorrow, Oct. 28th the crew will run a full dress rehearsal. This will include every little detail that leads up to the nine Merlin 1D engines igniting beneath them on launch day. They will don their spacesuits, and climb into the capsule, seal the hatch and run through diagnostics and procedures, just not actually launch. After all that they will do a simulated scrub to go through all the stuff that is associated with that, should the need arise and make sure all the crew is acquainted with procedures to keep them safe.