The SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying the Crew Dragon capsule seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral in May. Image from video

Space-X’s Crew-2 – including a former researcher from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography –may soon have company aboard the International Space Station.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX will attempt late Saturday to launch its third group of astronauts to the station as part of its contract with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to shuttle personnel to the orbiting outpost.

The four-member Crew-3 is scheduled to launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 11:21 p.m. PST.

If the launch is postponed for any reason, a backup launch window opens at 10:10 p.m. PST Nov. 3.

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, a mission specialist.

The astronauts are expected to arrive at the station early Monday.

They will be greeted upon arrival by the four-member crew of the last manned SpaceX flight, who have been aboard the station since April.

Crew 2– 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. She earned a doctorate in oceanography at UC San Diego, where she was a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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

SpaceX’s first manned mission to the space station, a test flight last summer, launched two astronauts from Cape Canaveral. The trip marked the first such mission to launch from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle program ended.

But that trip was labeled as a demonstration flight to test the capabilities of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

– City News Service

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