Two pilots, rocket scientist, oceanographer flying SpaceX


Cape Canaveral, Florida (AP) — SpaceX’s third crew includes attack helicopter pilots, former Yale France pilots, Japanese rocket scientists, and marine scientists.

The four veteran astronauts will need to arrive at the International Space Station on Saturday for a six-month stay, following Friday’s takeoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

A brief description of each:

— Flight Commander Shane Kimbro, 53, is a former Army Colonel who led a helicopter platoon during the 1991 Gulf War. His love for the universe was early on. His grandparents lived near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Kimbro, the son of an Army aviator who flew Vietnam, grew up in Atlanta. He taught mathematics at the US Military Academy, jumped from an Army plane, and then moved to Houston in 2000 to work on a NASA shuttle training aircraft. He became an astronaut in 2004, flew on a shuttle in 2008, and eight years later launched into a space station where he helped build with a Russian capsule. He and his wife have three grown-up children in the lobby.

—Pilot Megan McArthur, 49, is flying in the same seat that her husband Bob Behnken did at the launch of SpaceX’s debut crew almost a year ago. This time he said goodbye to his 7-year-old son Theo. It’s been 11 years since MacArthur was last in orbit on the shuttle of NASA’s last Hubble Space Telescope repair mission. After spending 20 years as an astronaut, she wants to see the space station. Born in Hawaii and raised in a Navy family, MacArthur conducted a graduate study of underwater acoustics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, led a diving expedition, and tested water facilities. She became an astronaut in 2000.

— Thomas Pesquet, 43, was flying for Air France when the European Space Agency chose him as an astronaut 12 years ago. Pesche, the son of a school teacher, realized that space was “cool” when he grew up in Normandy and earned a degree in spacecraft design. He joined the French space agency as an engineer in 2002. Two years later, Air France used him for its flight training program. He recorded 2,300 flight hours on a commercial airliner before becoming an astronaut in 2009. Pesche was launched into a space station on a Russian Soyuz rocket in 2016 for a six-month mission. His longtime partner Anne Mottet works for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

— Akihiko Hoshide (52 years old) joined the Japanese space agency as an engineer immediately after graduating from university in 1992 and was working on the H-II rocket. He cut astronauts seven years later and helped develop a Japanese “Kibo” lab for the space station. He set up the Kibo or Hope in 2008 and launched it on the Shuttle Discovery. Akihiko Hoshide flew from Kazakhstan and returned to the station for six months in 2012. He joins Soichi Noguchi of Japan at the station, and Noguchi will depart on his SpaceX next week. “It’s really great to see him, and unlike the situation on earth, he has the luxury of hugging in orbit,” Hoshide said because of the pandemic. He is married to his 11 year old son.

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The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.