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Crew-2 astronauts arrive at Kennedy Space Center ahead of launch

The crew is set to launch from Florida's space coast April 22.
Credit: AP
This undated photo made available by SpaceX in April 2021 shows the crew for its third astronaut launch to the International Space Station, during a training session at the SpaceX training facility in Hawthorne, Calif. From left are mission specialist Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, pilot Megan McArthur and commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and mission specialist Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. (SpaceX via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — As SpaceX and NASA get the go-ahead to launch another crew of astronauts next week into space, Crew-2's members arrived in Florida Friday.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, flew from Johnson Space Center to the Sunshine State's space coast during the afternoon. 

Kimbrough will be the mission's spaceflight commander, McArthur will be its pilot, and Hoshide and Pesquet will be mission specialists. The crew will head into space in the same capsule that flew the historic Demo-2 mission and use the same Falcon 9 that launched Crew-1 into space.

On the way in, McArthur said they were able to get a glimpse of their rocket on the pad and said there is no other experience like that. 

"We got to fly by the pad and see our rocket getting ready to go, and that's just an amazing feeling... and really, there's nothing like it.," she said.

Her fellow crew members and NASA, ESA and JAXA leaders also shared in her excitement as launch day inches closer.

“It’s definitely getting real," Kimbrough said. The mission's commander added that the crew has been very thoroughly trained and is ready to go.

The Crew-2 mission launch set for 6:11 a.m. on April 22 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station's historic Launch Complex 39A will mark several firsts for the agency.

Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk says Thursday's mission will be the first commercial mission flying two international partners to the International Space Station, the first commercial crew handover on the ISS, and the first time two commercial spacecraft will be docked at the orbiting laboratory.

“It never ceases to amaze me the talent, dedication, and bravery of our astronauts and our foreign partner astronauts," Jurczyk added.

All in all, the latest commercial crew is excited to experience new firsts after pushing through training during a global pandemic.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to have a great mission. I’m sure about that," Hoshide said.

“We’ve gotten to be really, really good friends, which is only going to play out further on the space station and that’s really only because of the pandemic so there's some silver linings believe it or not.," Kimbrough added.

After launch, the crew is expected to dock with the International Space Station on April 23. 

The four astronauts will spend six months at the International Space Station and are expected to overlap with the stay of the Crew-1 mission astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory. 

They could also overlap, if everything goes according to plan, with the first all-civilian crew of Inspiration 4. Kimbrough said that Crew-2 did not receive any special training in preparation for having non-astronauts in space.

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi are targeting an April 28 return to Earth. NASA estimates the spacecraft will splash down around 12:35 p.m. off the coast of Florida.

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