Before NASA's first endeavor into space with a private rocket has even launched, the crew for its second joint NASA/SpaceX mission has been selected -- and it includes an astronaut with San Diego ties.
NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, a UC San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography alumna, will pilot SpaceX's second Dragon flight to the International Space Station alongside astronaut Shane Kimbrough and two mission specialists from other countries.
The Crew-2 mission, with a targeted launch in spring 2021, will follow NASA and SpaceX's Demo-2 flight mission and Crew-1 mission, which is scheduled for late September 2020.
If all goes according to plan, McArthur and Kimbrough will spend six months aboard the ISS conducting science experiments for NASA.
The Crew-2 mission will be McArthur's second trip to space since being selected as an astronaut in 2000, but it will be her first trip to the ISS.
Her first mission in 2009, on space shuttle Atlantis, was the last mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. McArthur maneuvered the shuttle's robotic arm, guiding her teammates and maneuvering the telescope as her teammates completed five spacewalks to upgrade its technology.
The team overcame frozen bolts, stripped screws, and stuck handrails, according to NASA, and the mission is credited with extending the telescope's life to remain in operation more than a decade later.
McArthur graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering before obtaining a Ph.D. in oceanography from UC San Diego. At the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, McArthur used an algorithm to develop geoacoustic models that could describe shallow water waveguides.
She was born in Hawaii but considers herself a California native.