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UCSD alumna Megan McArthur will visit ISS as mission pilot in 2021

Portrait - Astronaut Megan McArthur at KSC
Posted at 6:34 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 21:34:21-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - UCSD and Scripps Institution of Oceanography alumna Megan McArthur will head to space as the pilot for the SpaceX Crew-2 mission in early 2021, NASA announced this week.

The Crew-2 flight will be the second SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station as part of NASA's commercial crew program.

McArthur, who received her doctorate in oceanography from Scripps in 2002, traveled to space aboard the space shuttle Atlantis in 2009. She and her crew were part of a 12-day mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. McArthur operated the shuttle's robotic arm that grabbed and released the telescope, making her the last person to "touch" the telescope. She was born in Honolulu but considers California her home state. She holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from UCLA.

The SpaceX Crew-2 flight will be her first trip to the International Space Station.

Joining McArthur is NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough as mission commander with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet as mission specialists.

McArthur is one of two Scripps Oceanography alumni who are astronauts. Alumna Jessica Meir returned from a visit to the International Space Station in April. Astronaut Kate Rubins also graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in biological sciences.

Crew-2 is targeted to launch in spring 2021, following the successful completion of both NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 test flight mission -- which is expected to return to Earth on Sunday -- and the launch of NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission -- which is targeted for late September. The Crew-2 astronauts will remain aboard the space station for approximately six months as expedition crew members, along with three crewmates who will launch via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The increase of the full space station crew complement to seven members will allow NASA to effectively double the amount of science that can be conducted in space.

NASA's commercial crew program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems capable of carrying crews to low-Earth orbit and the space station. A NASA statement said commercial transportation to and from the station will provide expanded utility, additional research time and broader opportunities for discovery on the orbital outpost.