SpaceX's first operational crew mission adds additional NASA and JAXA astronauts

Darrell Etherington

SpaceX is readying for its first flight with astronauts on board – Demo-2, which is technically the last demonstration mission that is required before the Crew Dragon capsule is officially certified to start flying regular missions. Demo-2's mission scope has been adjusted somewhat so that astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be actually doing some shift work on the International Space Station, but Crew-1 is the official first operational mission of the SpaceX human-rated spacecraft, and now we know a few more details about who that will carry.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that JAXA astronaut Noguchi Soichi will be on the first Crew Dragon mission once it officially is declared operational, and the agency said on Tuesday that Noguchi has begun training for his trip to the ISS. Noguchi has been to the ISS twice previously on other missions, including between 2009 and 2010 on via a Russian Soyuz launch, and during 2005 when he actually flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in order to help assemble part of the station.

SpaceX and NASA are currently readying for Demo-2, which as mentioned will be crewed by two NASA astronauts. That should take place sometime in mid to late May if the schedule holds to current timing plans. Once that's complete, Crew-1, which is intended to have a complement of four people on board, should begin sometime in the later half of 2020.

Crew-1 will include NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover, as well as newly announced addition Shannon Walker, who was announced as a new member on the team on Tuesday by NASA.