KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla, — If all goes to plan veteran NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European astronaut Thomas Pesquet will fly on the second operational flight to the International Space Station under NASA’s commercial program Friday at 5:49 a.m. EDT.
Acting administrator Steve Jurczyk says the mission is vital to NASA’s future space exploration plans.
“It’s been a long haul but having this capability is really important for ISS to enable the research and technology development that we need to extend capabilities in low-earth orbit. But (the) ISS is also important for our Artemis plans and eventually mars,” Jurczyk said.
NASA initially hoped for an Earth Day launch but concerns about unfavorable weather along the flight path moved the launch to Friday.
Despite the delay, Jusczyk says the crew is ready to go, right down to their COVID-19 vaccinations.
“They said all the precautions that NASA took and SpaceX took made us feel perfectly safe,” he said.
After a brief hand-off with Crew-1, which is scheduled to splash down next week, Crew-2 will spend 6 months aboard the space station conducting experiments and performing maintenance before the next commercial crew arrives.
Crew-2 will get their wake-up call at 11:09 p.m., just in time for their launch readiness briefing.