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When Will the SpaceX Astronauts Return to Earth?

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The SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship lifted off from at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 15. The spaceship successfully docked at the ISS (International Space Station) on Nov. 16 with four astronauts aboard. 

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The mission, dubbed Crew-1, is a landmark achievement for NASA and its partner SpaceX. SpaceX, run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, developed the spacecraft that made the Crew-1 mission possible. NASA partnered with SpaceX and Boeing on the Commercial Crew Program to reinvigorate its space exploration work.

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Who are the four astronauts on the SpaceX mission?

The four astronauts on the SpaceX Crew-1 mission are Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Soichi Noguchi. Hopkins became a NASA astronaut in 2009. This is his second space mission. His first space mission was to the ISS in September 2013. He spent 166 days there as part of the Expedition 37/38 crew member. Hopkins is the commander of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

Walker became a NASA astronaut in 2004 and launched on her first space mission in 2010. She spent 161 days at the ISS. However, the current SpaceX mission is the first spaceflight for Glover. He became a NASA astronaut in 2013. Glover is the pilot of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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Noguchi is the only non-NASA astronaut on the Space Crew-1 mission. A spaceflights veteran, Noguchi became an astronaut in Japan’s space agency in 1996. This is Noguchi’s third space mission. In the past, he launched to the ISS in 2005 and 2009.

When will the SpaceX astronauts return to earth?

The four astronauts on the SpaceX Crew-1 mission will stay at the ISS for about six months. The crew will return to Earth in the spring of 2021 after accomplishing the mission’s goal. NASA screened the crew for COVID-19 to ensure their health and safety in space as they work on the agency’s space program. 

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Just before the mission launched, Musk revealed that he was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, which caused some panic. The space agency quickly conducted contact tracing to see if the SpaceX astronauts might have been exposed.

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What is the goal for the SpaceX Crew-1 mission?

The SpaceX astronauts are on the ISS with a list of objectives to accomplish. First, the crew delivered 500 pounds of cargo to the station, which included scientific study materials. During the crew's stay at the ISS, they will be working on regular station maintenance and conducting scientific research. Also, the crew will complete a variety of spacewalks. 

How is the latest space mission launch the beginning of a new era for NASA?

The SpaceX Crew-1 mission is a landmark achievement for NASA. The mission demonstrates the success of the agency’s commercial spaceflight program. The mission marks the beginning of what will likely be routinely crewed spaceflights from the U.S. It has been nearly a decade since NASA lifted astronauts from U.S. soil to the space station.

NASA’s inability to launch astronauts to space left the ISS understaffed. However, the arrangement with SpaceX and Boeing on the commercial spaceflight program should be a major breakthrough for the agency’s space program. While NASA will rent spacecraft for astronauts from SpaceX and Boeing, the companies can also use those vehicles for space tourism and private research.

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