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SpaceX postpones launch of four more astronauts to space station

SpaceX's astronaut-riding Dragon approaches space station
Posted at 7:01 PM, Oct 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-30 22:01:36-04

HAWTHORNE (CNS) - Hawthorne-based SpaceX Saturday postponed its planned launch of another group of astronauts to the International Space Station as part of its contract with NASA's Commercial Crew Program to shuttle personnel to the orbiting outpost.

The four-member crew was scheduled to launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 11:21 p.m. Saturday California time.

But out of an abundance of caution due to a storm in the northeastern United States, the agency is now targeting the backup launch window, which opens Wednesday at 10:10 p.m. California time.

Flying aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance will be NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander; Tom Marshburn, pilot; and Kayla Barron, mission specialist. Also aboard will be European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist.

The astronauts have been dubbed Crew-3, as part of SpaceX's third official manned flight to the space station. They will be greeted upon arrival by the four-member crew of the last manned SpaceX flight, Crew-2, who have been aboard the station since April.

That crew -- NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet -- are expected to return to Earth in early November aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Endeavour.

McArthur, who grew up in Northern California, is a UCLA graduate in aerospace engineering, and she earned a doctorate in oceanography at UC San Diego, where she was a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

In November 2020, SpaceX sent its first official crew to the space station in a separate Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Resilience.

SpaceX's first manned mission to the space station occurred last summer with the launch of two astronauts from Cape Canaveral in the Endeavour capsule, a flight that marked the first manned mission to launch from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle program was retired. But that trip was technically dubbed a demonstration flight to test the capabilities of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.