NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) have named three astronauts to serve as crew members for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS), which is expected to launch in the fall of 2021. NASA’s Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn will serve as commander and pilot, respectively. ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer will serve as a mission specialist.
A fourth crew member will be added at a later date, following a review by NASA and its international partners. This will be the third crew rotation mission of SpaceX’s human space transportation system and its fourth flight with astronauts to the space station through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA’s contract with SpaceX is for six total crew missions to the orbiting laboratory. The goal of the program is to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective crew access to the space station and low-Earth orbit in partnership with American aerospace industry.
Marshburn became an astronaut in 2004. Prior to serving in the astronaut corps, he served as flight surgeon at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and later became medical operations lead for the International Space Station (ISS). Marshburn previously served as a crew member of STS-127 in 2009 and Expedition 34/35, which concluded in 2013.
Before becoming an astronaut, Maurer held a number of engineering and research roles, both in a university setting and at ESA. In 2016, Maurer spent 16 days on an undersea mission as part of a NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) space analog.
Chari became a NASA astronaut in 2017. He is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force and brings extensive experience as a test pilot. He has more than 2,500 hours of flight time. Additionally, Chari was selected earlier this month as a member of the Artemis Team.
NASA has named the 18 astronauts that will serve as part of the Artemis Team, who will be responsible for helping the agency prepare for Artemis deep-space missions including the planned moon landing in 2024.
The astronauts, which were selected based on eligibility for initial moon missions, will help NASA and its industry partners develop hardware requirements, crew training activities and technologies such as the human landing system.
The team will also engage with the public in support of the Artemis program and future NASA missions.
“We are incredibly grateful for the president and vice president’s support of the Artemis program, as well as the bipartisan support for all of NASA’s science, aeronautics research, technology development, and human exploration goals,” said NASA administrator and 2019 Wash100 Award recipient Jim Bridenstine.