Indian-origin astronaut Raja Chari-led Crew 3 mission to lift off for Space Station on October 31
This is the third crew rotation trip with astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and the fourth voyage with astronauts as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program, including the Demo-2 test flight.
NASA and SpaceX are nearing the end of their mission to send the next rotating crew to the space station. At 11:51 a.m. on October 31, the Crew-3 will take out for the flying outpost (IST). This is the third crew rotation trip with astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and the fourth voyage with astronauts as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program, including the Demo-2 test flight. The four astronauts will be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, headed by Elon Musk.
The four-person team will spend six months aboard the microgravity laboratory doing research that will push the limits of human space flight. For a brief while, the crew will collaborate with Crew-2 astronauts and members of Expedition 66, who are now on board the ISS, before taking over the task. NASA astronauts Raja Chari (mission commander); Tom Marshburn (pilot); and Kayla Barron (mission specialist) will be transported to the space station for a six-month scientific mission. Meanwhile, European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer will serve as a mission specialist on the Crew-3 flight.
On October 16, the four members were quarantined for the mission. The quarantine is a regular part of all space station missions' final preparations. According to NASA, spending the last two weeks before liftoff in quarantine will assure the crew's health while protecting the astronauts currently on the space station.
Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer, and people in direct, close contact with the team will be tested for the virus twice.
This is the first flight for Indian American astronaut Raja Chari, chosen as the mission's commander in 2020. He has mentioned that he is thrilled to work and train alongside Matthias Maurer and Thomas Henry Marshburn in preparation for a SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station. He is a colonel in the United States Air Force and brings vast expertise as a test pilot to the operation. NASA noted in a statement summarising his qualifications that Chari has more than 2,500 hours of flight time in his career.