CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos are finalizing an agreement to launch the first astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, agency officials confirmed Monday (December 20).
Joel Montalbano, program manager for the International Space Station (ISS) at NASA, told reporters during a press conference prior to the launch of the Dragon CRS-24 cargo resupply mission that the plan was to launch an astronaut on the SpaceX Crew-5 mission, which will launch in the fall of 2019 2022.
«The plan is to send an astronaut on the Crew-5 mission next fall and then launch a NASA astronaut on the next Soyuz mission,» Montalbano said. «The agency is currently finalizing these plans through government agreements,» he added.
Russian officials first announced this on December 8; However, the two agencies have been trying to reach an agreement since the start of the commercial crew program. according to RoscosmosChosen astronaut Anna KekinaShe is the only active female astronaut in the Russian Aerospace Force.
The mission will be its first spaceflight, and according to Montalbano, one astronaut has already begun training at SpaceX’s facilities. (Montalbano has not confirmed that Kikina is actually the one who will fly the mission.)
As a member of the Crew-5 mission, Kikina will join NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, who were originally assigned to the first manned Boeing mission. It was Mann and Casada lately Reset it to SpaceX He will join Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata to direct a crew of four.
In exchange for its Dragon seat, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said the RSA has pledged a Russian seat. Soyuz capsule To an American astronaut in return.
This seat swap was a hope for NASA once the commercial crew program ramped up. To date, SpaceX has launched four manned missions to low Earth orbit, three of which are long-duration missions. (The other flight was a manned test flight that demonstrated the Crew Dragon could safely deliver astronauts to and from the space station.)
SpaceX was one of two companies selected by NASA to transport astronauts to low Earth orbit and return them; Boeing is the other one. The duo was selected in 2014, with SpaceX being the only company to have launched astronauts to date.
Boeing starliner The spacecraft first flew on an unmanned mission two years ago but was unable to reach the International Space Station due to several software errors. Working with NASA, the company spent 18 months reviewing the spacecraft’s program and various systems to ensure any issues were resolved and they were ready to fly.
However, while sitting on the launch pad leading up to its second uncrewed test flight, scheduled for August 30, many of the valves inside the spacecraft’s propulsion system corroded and closed. Boeing tried to troubleshoot but had to return the spacecraft to the factory.
They have since determined that moisture interactions with the spacecraft fuel caused the valves to close. Engineers are working to solve problems and prepare the spacecraft to fly for the next launch attempt, which is scheduled for Not before May 2022.