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Wife of SpaceX historic Crew Dragon astronaut to pilot launch

NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, whose husband Bob Behnken was one of two crew members aboard SpaceX’s historic Crew Dragon mission in May, will pilot the commercial craft’s second launch in the spring of 2021.

McArthur and Behnken met as members of the Astronaut Class of 2000, and have a six-year-old son, Theodore.

NASA on Tuesday announced the four-member crew for the second operational SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station, which will be commanded by NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough.

Joining the crew as specialists will be Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

McArthur will be making her second trip to space, but her first to the station. She flew on NASA´s final mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Her husband Behnken remained aboard the ISS as NASA announced McArthur’s selection for the second mission, and is due to return to Earth this weekend.

‘So excited to get to fly with these guys!’ McArthur said in a tweet as the crew list for the second mission was announced. 

According to NASA, McArthur was born in Honolulu but considers California to be her home state. 

After being selected as an astronaut in 2000, she launched on space shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on STS-125, the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, in 2009. 

McArthur operated the shuttle’s robotic arm over the course of the nearly 13-day mission, capturing the telescope and moving crew members during the five spacewalks needed to repair and upgrade it. 

She holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a doctorate in oceanography from the University of California, San Diego. 

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 7.34pm EDT on Saturday, August 1, for undocking of the Dragon ‘Endeavour’ spacecraft from the ISS for Behnken and Doug Hurley to return to Earth.

Splashdown is targeted for 2.42pm on Sunday. It will be the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station. 

‘The station is a critical testbed for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight,’ NASA said in a statement.

‘As commercial companies focus on providing human transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, NASA is free to focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep space missions to the Moon and Mars.’

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