UC San Diego graduate Megan McArthur will pilot SpaceX Dragon to space station

NASA has confirmed that it will send its new SpaceX Dragon crew vehicle to the International Space Station this spring and that UC San Diego graduate Megan McArthur will pilot the ship.

The space agency says the vehicle, which also carries cargo, will launch no sooner than April 20. But it’s likely to depart shortly after that date with a crew that includes fellow NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who will serve as commander.

The crew also features two other astronauts: Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.

NASA is in the midst of an important transition. For years, the agency had to depend on Russian vehicles to shuttle American astronauts back and forth between Earth and the space station. NASA contracted with SpaceX to develop Dragon, which services the station; it brought astronauts there for the first time in 2020.

McArthur (second for left) sits in the SpaceX Crew Dragon 2 spacecraft

McArthur (second for left) sits in the SpaceX Crew Dragon 2 spacecraft

(NASA)

McArthur, who is 49, will be making her second trip into space. She was a crew member on the shuttle Atlantis in 2009, when it conducted the final servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope. She used the shuttle’s robotic arm to capture the telescope and helped put spacewalking crew members in the right place to service Hubble.

In a little over two months, she will make the quick trip between Earth and the space station, where another UCSD graduate, Kate Rubins, is currently at work, conducting scientific research.

There’s a good chance that a third UCSD graduate, Jessica Meir, will be making a return trip to the space station as well. She served on the outpost last year.

McArthur earned a doctorate in oceanography at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2002.

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