Meet the Four Astronauts flying on a SpaceX Crew-2 Mission to the ISS

SpaceX’s upcoming Crew-2 aircraft is slated for release April 20, courtesy of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft at the top of the Falcon 9 rocket.

As the second team mission for SpaceX since the Crew-1 was launched in November 2020, it is a shame to think that the Crew-2 mission will be a chakewalk – but even after the astronauts arrive for the stay six months aboard the International Space Station, whether the work ahead of them will, as usual, be daunting.

“We don’t have much free time,” Astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) – one of four on the Crew-2 mission – said in an interview with Engineering Interest. “We work twelve and a half hours a day, starting at 7:30 am, and finishing at 8:00 [PM]. “

Meet the four astronauts flying on SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission to the ISS

Pesquet is a mission expert for SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission, and once aboard the ISS, he and other astronauts will perform “hundreds of experiments. Some of the science we do is incredible,” he said. to Interesting Engineering (IE).

“Today we’re doing print engineering, trying to build artificial retinas for people with visual pathologies,” Pesquet explained. The reason we do it is because these techniques involve mechanical processes at the level of the cells affected by gravity. “

Another test involves crystal growth, from which drugs are made, according to Pesquet. “[P]roteins and crystals have irregular shapes “because they” fall deep – but on the space station we can have almost perfect crystal shapes, “which leads to pharmaceutical research in ways that to anyone on Earth.

With such a heavy interdisciplinary workload, it is a shame to think that all astronauts are polymaths – experts with multidisciplinary doctoral degrees who could teach quantum physics in their sleep.

Not so, according to Pesquet.

Earth-based experts support astronauts on ISS with science experiments

“We’re not experts in all areas – there’s basic physics, engineering, tech,” and more, Pesquet told IE. “We don’t get a Ph.D. in every subject.” While astronauts can train for 10 or 20 hours on a topic related to science missions, they do call in for help.

“As soon as you are on board [the ISS], the experts are on the ground, thousands of them will tell you what to do, “Pesquet said.” Sometimes you get to talk to them with a camera over your shoulder – you are the hands and they are the brains. “

Luckily for the astronauts, it’s no job at all and there’s no play on the ISS. Outside the workday around 12 hours (which feels gloomy) ”food is involved, [and] downtime to check your email or watch a movie, “NASA astronaut and Spaceship Commander Shane Kimbrough said in another interview with IE.” It’s quarters very tight, I’ve done it several times – [and] know what to expect. “

Kimbrough also said that this mission is NASA’s first K. Megan McArthur Astronaut on the ISS. McArthur is the fourth member of the Crew-2 crew, and was unable to speak to IE. But all astronauts will have downtime to relax. “We get together on the weekends to see movies together,” Kimbrough said.

Four spacecraft designed for Crew-2 mission on ISS

The record on ISS is better than most would think. Instead of Army quotas in packages like the old days of NASA’s first Mercury missions, today’s astronauts can bring elegant food from their home nations. “One thing I’m looking forward to is sharing canoe and rice with astronauts on a mission,” JAXA Astronaut and Mission Specialist Aki Hoshide said, in a third interview with IE. Sharing Japanese food “has been a tradition since JAXA’s first mission to the ISS.”

In fact, spending six months going up in a tin of proverbs – no matter how big the ISS is – can make people feel a little homesick. That is why there is room for astronomers to give the best argument of the Earth in the universe. Called the Cupola model, there are “windows in this region of the ISS to look at the Earth at all times,” Kimbrough said, referring to a model that has seven windows and resembles a globe, built by the ESA and installed in 2010. “It’s a great place to watch the Earth pass by in literally 90 minutes.”

And the astronauts go out too. “There are currently four spacecraft planned while we are on board,” Kimbrough told IE. “Going out is amazing – it’s hard work, it’s a long day.” Usually we associate weight loss with effortless effort, but nothing could be. farther from reality when it comes to true spaceflight.

JAXA Astronaut Hoshide led an underwater mission to prepare for spaceflight

“It looks effortless and smooth and well, but we work hard every time we move our hand or install something,” Kimbrough explained to IE. mentally as well as physically, “because, in the outer space,” you know the stakes are high. “

Spacewalks last six or seven hours, but “you get into spaceuits three or four hours early,” which means astronauts can spend up to 10 hours alongside inside one. To prepare for prolonged physical exercise, astronauts train underwater.

Astronaut JAXA Hoshide led a mission called NEEMO 18 to the underwater base of Aquarius, off the coast of Florida. “[W]He did a ‘spacewalk’ out in the ocean … it ‘s dangerous because you might float and get into a dangerous situation, “he told IE. Just like a spaceship in that regard. “

Aquarius’ base is not very large, but since it is effectively separated from the world, it also prepares astronauts for living in space, where things sometimes go wrong.

“Whenever you have people in a small place with long times,” there is potential for personality issues, Kimbrough said. While all astronauts receive a poor psychological evaluation, emerging issues can lead to potential divisions while on board – even in the absence of emergencies such as system may fail. “Any trip that has explored things outside of planet Earth, I’m sure they will eventually run into it,” he said.

However, Kimbrough does not anticipate any issues with Crew-2 employees. “Looking forward to this team.”

NASA Johnson Crew-2
The four Crew-2 members aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. Source: NASA Johnson / Flickr

ISS tests Crew-2 to plan the route for Lunar Gate

“Some of the experiments and the technology we’re working on are supposed to be used on the moon and on Mars,” Pesquet told IE. “And we’re using the space station as a test bed for the technology.”

“This will open up more space for private projects and stations, such as private hotels in space,” said Pesquet, and as will joint projects between several space agencies and unions – including NASA, ESA, JAXA , SpaceX, and more – starting to build a Lunar Gate in the next decade, today ‘s astronauts may find themselves taking off a spaceship not on a station, or on Earth – but the moon itself.

It ‘s definitely an exciting time right now with the Earth’ s low orbit commercialization and Artemis program kicking in, “Hoshide told IE. “I’d like to be willing to go to the moon. Mars is a little out of reach – [it’s] for the next generation. But the moon would be a miracle for me. “

Some may remember the last move from SpaceX’s Crew-1 before its launch – holding up one finger, saying: “One for all.” According to Hoshide, Crew’s hand signal -2 two fingers, instead of one. Whether this is for peace or victory, we cannot say. But surprises await the exciting and international team ready for six months of working and living in space.