NASA and SpaceX prepare for Halloween launch

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NASA and SpaceX are bringing the treats this Halloween weekend as they are set to launch the third commercial crew rotation to the International Space Station. 

Crew-3 is comprised of NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron. European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer is the fourth member.

The Commercial Crew Program is the first program of its kind in creating a market for low-Earth orbit missions. This combination of government and commercial companies is working to advance our overall knowledge of space. 

“The Commercial Crew Program was developed as a way of creating a vehicle at a lower cost, basically to replace the rotation of human beings to the International Space Station. The space shuttle was an incredible vehicle, incredibly capable, also incredibly expensive. So they developed a way and came up with this concept of a Commercial Crew Program, which would allow a company to make a vehicle to take humans to space. And it wasn’t going to be owned entirely by NASA,” says NASA Astronaut Stephen Bowen. 

The International Space Station has been continuously operating for twenty-one years! Bowen knows this new chapter is an exciting continuation of the already impressive legacy of the ISS. 

“We’ve been upgrading, we’ve been changing, we’ve been repairing, we’ve been fixing, but we’ve learned so much on the engineering side. What we can do for humans that will allow us to build better systems here down on earth and take it deeper into space for further exploration. So each increment, each exploration increment of the Space Station is unique, but that continuation is what really excites me.” 

While their work occurs high in the sky, the advancements made above our heads help us here on the ground. 

One example that Bowen was directly part of is the water recovery system. The technology on the ISS was adapted here on Earth and provides water in places that had not experienced clean water systems. Just one of the many benefits of space exploration. 

“Answering that question allowed us to bring great technology back down to earth. And that’s the reason we explore. We explore to answer these questions and to challenge us with new questions. And every time we challenge ourselves with new questions, we learn more about ourselves and what we’re capable of doing and how to make life here better.” 

Inviting commercial companies like SpaceX and Boeing to participate in these low-Earth orbit missions allows NASA to focus on future endeavors, like Artemis. With Artemis, NASA will start a new chapter of lunar exploration. 

“In a sense it frees up some of the funding for Artemis to do that on the business side there’s that. As I said, every vehicle, every new way to space helps us understand another way to solve the problem,” says Bowen. 

Every lesson, big or small, propels NASA to move forward to the next discovery. 

“So every mission will help us get to the Moon and stay on the Moon, as opposed to just coming back. So we’re going to go there and stay this time. That’s exciting.” 

Like many of us, Bowen can’t wait for the launch this weekend. 

“It’s great to see three new crew members going to space. New people going to space, gives you new opportunities, new understanding and I can’t wait to talk to them when we get back.” 

Set your clocks early or plan to stay up late! The launch is scheduled for Sunday at 2:21 a.m. Eastern! 

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