Crew-3 Dragon to launch history’s 600th person to fly in space
When SpaceX’s Crew-3 Dragon mission launches, it’ll carry with it the 600th person to reach space since human spaceflight began in 1961.
Flying in Crew Dragon Endurance will be NASA astronauts Raja Chari (spacecraft commander), Tom Marshburn (spacecraft pilot) and Kayla Barron (mission specialist), as well as European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer (mission specialist).
Launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket is currently set for 9:03 p.m. EDT Nov. 10 (02:03 UTC Nov. 11) at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. About a day later, the four will reach the International Space Station where they are expected to remain for about six months.
While Chari, Barron and Maurer are all set to fly to space for the first time (Marshburn will be on his third flight), NASA and the European Space Agency have designated German-born Maurer to have the distinction of number 600.
According to NASA, the methodology for assigning a number to an astronaut heading to space is determined by the position where they sit inside a spacecraft. Chari will be number 599 and Barron will be number 601.
The first person to reach space was Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in April 1961. The second was NASA astronaut Alan Shepard about a month later.
This NASA statistic includes everybody that has traveled above 50 miles (about 80 kilometers) above Earth, which is what the U.S. government defines as the threshold of space.
However, the internationally-recognized boundary of space is 62 miles (100 kilometers), which is known as the Karman line.
While most spaceflights achieve an altitude above the Karman line, especially if it is an orbital mission, the Federal Aviation Administration has begun recognizing and awarding astronaut wings for suborbital flights above 50 miles, which is about the range of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo flights.
“We are entering the era of commercial spaceflight and with all of the suborbital flights, they also count into the statistics,” Maurer said in a recent interview on the matter.
Maurer was chosen by the European Space Agency in 2015 to become an astronaut and will be the agency’s 29th astronaut flying to space and the 11th ESA astronaut to have a lengthy stay on the International Space Station.
Video courtesy of ESA
Theresa Cross grew up on the Space Coast. It’s only natural that she would develop a passion for anything “Space” and its exploration. During these formative years, she also discovered that she possessed a talent and love for defining the unique quirks and intricacies that exist in mankind, nature, and machines. Hailing from a family of photographers—including her father and her son, Theresa herself started documenting her world through pictures at a very early age. As an adult, she now exhibits an innate photographic ability to combine what appeals to her heart and her love of technology to deliver a diversified approach to her work and artistic presentations. Theresa has a background in water chemistry, fluid dynamics, and industrial utility.