Crew-2 (USCV-2) | Falcon 9 Block 5

Launch Window
(Subject to change)
April 23, 2021 – 09:49:02 UTC | 05:49:02 EDT
Mission Name
Crew-2 or United States Crew Vehicle mission 2 (USCV-2)
Launch Provider
(What rocket company is launching it?)
(Who’s paying for this?)
Falcon 9 Block 5 B1061-2; 158 days, 9 hours, 21 minutes, and 45 second turnaround time
Launch Location
Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA
Payload mass
Around 13,000 kg (~28,700 lbs) (~12,000 kg dry mass + cargo)
Where is the spacecraft going?
Crew Dragon C206-2 will rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS)
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
Where will the first stage land?
542 km downrange on Of Course I Still Love You

Tug: Finn Falgout; Support: GO Quest
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
There are no fairings on Dragon 2
How’s the weather looking?
The weather is currently 90% go for launch (As of April 22, 2021 11:00 UTC)
This will be the:
3rd SpaceX crewed mission
2nd CCtCap (Commercial Crew Transportation Capability) mission
2nd operational Crew Dragon mission

1st reuse of a Dragon 2
– 10th reuse of a Dragon spacecraft
1st reuse of a privately developed spacecraft certified for human flight
1st crewed mission on a flight proven Falcon 9
6th Crew Dragon mission

114th Falcon 9 launch
56th Falcon 9 flight with a flight proven booster
60th re-flight of a booster
– 11th re-flight of a booster in 2021
– 80th booster landing
– 11th launch for SpaceX in 2021
33rd SpaceX launch from LC-39A
– 31st orbital launch attempt of 2021

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Where to watch
SpaceX’s official livestream.

NASA’s official livestream.

Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, will be streaming at T-60ish minutes; come ask questions and join the conversation live!

What’s all this mean?

SpaceX will launch four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in their Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9. Crew-2, also known as USCV-2, will lift off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A), Kennedy Space Center, Florida. This mission will mark the first launch of a flight proven Dragon 2 and the first crewed launch on a flight proven Falcon 9.

The Crew-2 astronauts training ahead of launch in January (Credit: NASA)


Crew-2 will mark the second United States Crew Vehicle (USCV) mission and the third crewed flight of Dragon. Crew Dragon will carry four astronauts to the International Space Station, where they will stay for roughly six months until they hand the station over to the Crew-3 crew. The Crew-2 astronauts will replace the Crew-1 astronauts: Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi, and join the MS-18 cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei.

Meet the Crew

The crew is composed of two NASA astronauts, one ESA astronaut, and one JAXA astronaut:

  • Commander: NASA astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough
  • Pilot: NASA astronaut Katherine Megan McArthur
  • Mission Specialist 1: JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide (星出 彰彦)
  • Mission Specialist 2: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet
Crew-2 astronaut

Crew-2 Commander Shane Kimbrough

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough was born on June 4, 1967 in Killeen, Texas. In 1989, Kimbrough graduated from the United States Military Academy with a B.S. in aerospace engineering. After graduating, he served as a helicopter pilot, flying an Apache in the first Gulf War.

After several years serving, Kimbrough attended Georgia Tech and, in 1998, graduated with a master’s in operations research. With this degree, he trained astronauts for several years, which helped him get selected for the NASA astronaut group 19 in 2004.

Once Kimbrough graduated from the astronaut training program, he was assigned to the STS-126 mission as a payload specialist. STS-126 launched on November 14, 2008 and delivered supplies to the space station. During the mission, astronauts serviced the Solar Alpha Rotary Joints (SARJ); Kimbrough successfully performed two EVAs during this repair.

Kimbrough then was part of Expedition 49/50, which launched on October 19, 2016. After the Expedition 49 crew left, he became the commander of the space station. During this four month mission, Kimbrough performed four more spacewalks, preparing for battery upgrades, installation of the second international docking adapter, and upgraded the computer relay boxes.

In July of 2020, Kimbrough was assigned as the commander of the Crew-2 mission.

Crew-2 astronaut

Crew 2 Pilot Megan McArthur

NASA astronaut Megan McArthur was born on August 30, 1971 in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1993 McArthur graduated from the University of California with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. She then attended Scripps Institution of Oceanography and graduated with a Ph.D in oceanography in 2002.

While McArthur was a graduate student, she was selected for the NASA astronaut group 18 in 2000. Once her training was complete, she worked at the astronaut office’s shuttle operations branch, where she worked on technical issues in the shuttle avionics integration lab. McArthur also served as the capsule communicator (CapCom) for the STS-116 mission, as well as the EVA CapCom for the STS-117 mission. She also served as the crew support astronaut for the Expedition 9 mission.

McArthur was then assigned to the STS-125 Hubble Space Telescope service mission. On this mission she was a payload specialist as well as the lead robotics crew member. McArthur was assigned to the Crew-2 mission in July of 2020.

Crew-2 astronaut

Crew-2 Mission Specialist Akihiko Hoshide (星出 彰彦)

Akihiko Hoshide was born on December 28, 1968 in Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan. In 1992 Hoshide graduated from Keio University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Five years later, he graduated with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering.

In 1992 Hoshide began working at the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), where he worked on the Japanese H-II medium lift launch vehicle. From 1994 to 1999, Hoshide worked as an astronaut support engineer where he helped develop and advance the NASDA training program. His work included being a support member for the STS-72 mission, where he helped NASDA astronaut Koichi Wakata from the ground.

In 1999 Hoshide was selected by NASDA (which in 2003 turned into JAXA) as one of three Japanese astronaut candidates for the ISS. After graduating from the program in 2001, he worked as an engineer for JAXA, helping develop the H-II Transfer Vehicle.

Hoshide was assigned to STS-124, delivering part of the Japanese module to the ISS. He was then the flight engineer on Expedition 32/33. On this mission, Hoshide berthed the HTV-3 cargo spacecraft to the ISS. He was assigned to the Crew-2 mission along with everyone else in July of 2020.

Crew-2 astronaut

Crew-2 Mission Specialist Thomas Pesquet

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet was born on February 27, 1978 in Rouen, Normandy, France. In 2001, Pesquet graduated from the École nationale supérieure de l’aéronautique et de l’espace with a master’s degree in space systems and space vehicle mechanics.

After this, he went to the Air France flight school, which resulted in him receiving his airline transport pilot rating. During his education, Pesquet learned 6 languages: French, English, Spanish, Chinese, German, and Russian.

In 2001, Pesquet worked as a spacecraft dynamics engineer that worked on remote sensing missions for HMV, before in 2002 getting a job at the French space agency where he was a research engineer for space mission autonomy. In 2004, Pesquet began working for Air France where he flew the Airbus A320.

In 2009, he was selected as an ESA astronaut candidate, completing his basic training in 2010. In 2014, Pesquet was assigned to the Soyuz MS-03 mission. Along with the rest of the crew, in July of 2020, Pesquet was assigned to the Crew-2 mission.

Crew Dragon C206 Endeavour

The Crew Dragon supporting the Crew-2 mission is Crew Dragon C206-2. The Dragon previously supported the SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2, launching NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS in May of 2020. After launch, Behnken and Hurley announced they had named the vehicle Endeavour, as a tribute to both the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which was the spacecraft they both first flew on, and to the hard work by SpaceX and NASA teams.

Endeavour splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on August 2, 2020. Shortly after splashdown, Dragon was recovered by GO Navigator, and was then taken to the Cape to begin a series of inspections, upgrades, and refurbishments. SpaceX made several changes to C206 for the Crew-2 mission to further increase the safety of the vehicle and increase the amount of launch and splashdown opportunities.

Changes to C206

The most notable change made to Endeavour is an upgraded SuperDraco abort system. The amount of propellent stored on the vehicle has been increased, which will allow for Crew Dragon to launch in stronger offshore winds while ensuring the crew’s safety. SpaceX also replaced parts of titanium in the SuperDraco with steel, further increasing the safety of the abort system.

SpaceX also strengthened part of Dragon’s structure allowing Dragon to withstand stronger secondary splashes. A secondary splash is the splash after the initial splashdown that could damage the vehicle under certain conditions. To ensure Dragon does not get damaged, NASA and SpaceX have strict splashdown weather criteria. By strengthening the structure of Dragon, these criteria were re-evaluated, increasing the amount of acceptable splashdown conditions.

During inspections of C206 after DM-2, it was found that there was slightly more erosion on the heat shield than expected where the trunk attached to the capsule. Once again, to further increase crew safety, these areas of the heat shield were replaced with an upgraded version. The heat shield upgrades have already flown on the Crew-1 and CRS-21 missions and proven successful.

Crew Dragon Resilience awaiting mating with its Falcon 9. (Credit: NASA)

Crew-2 mission profile

Following separation from the second stage Crew Dragon will begin opening its nosecone. This exposes the forward Draco thrusters and the docking mechanism. Endeavour will then use its Draco thrusters to perform a number of phasing burns to increase its orbital altitude and align with the ISS.

Once the spacecraft is in the correct orbit and near the station, it will enter the ISS’ “keep out sphere.” Following a series of go/no-go polls, Dragon will dock itself to the ISS’ forward port on the Harmony module.

Flight plan schematics. (Credit: SpaceX)

What is Falcon 9 Block 5?

The Falcon 9 Block 5 is SpaceX’s partially reusable two-stage medium-lift launch vehicle. The vehicle consists of a reusable first stage, an expendable second stage, and a pair of reusable fairing halves or a reusable Dragon. As Falcon is carrying a Crew Dragon capsule for the Crew-2 mission, it will not have any payload fairings.

First Stage

The Falcon 9 first stage is equipped with 9 Merlin 1D+ sea level engines. Each engine uses an open gas generator cycle and runs on RP-1 and liquid oxygen (LOx). Each engine produces 845 kN of thrust at sea level, with an specific impulse (ISP) of 285 seconds, and 934 kN in a vacuum with an ISP of 313 seconds. Due to the powerful nature of the engine, and the large amount of them, the Falcon 9 first stage is able to lose an engine right off the pad, or up to two later in flight, and be able to successfully place the payload into orbit.

The Merlin engines are ignited by TEA-TEB. During static fire and launch the TEA-TEB is provided by the ground service equipment. However, as the Falcon 9 first stage is able to propulsively land three of the Merlin engines (E1, E5, and E9) contain TEA-TEB canisters to relight for the boost back, reentry, and landing burns.

Second Stage

The Falcon 9 second stage is the only expendable part of the Falcon 9. It is equipped with a singular MVacD engine that produces 992 kN of thrust and an ISP of 348 seconds. The second stage is capable of doing several burns, allowing the Falcon 9 to put payloads in several different orbits.

For missions with many burns and/or long coasts between burns, the second stage is able to be equipped with a mission extension package. When the second stage has this package it has a grey strip, which helps keep the RP-1 warm, an increased number of COPVs for pressurization control, and additional TEA-TEB.

Falcon 9 lifting off
Falcon 9 Block 5 launching on the GPS Block III SV03 mission (Credit: SpaceX)

Booster B1061

The booster supporting the Crew-2 mission is B1061. The booster has flown one previous time, on the Crew-1 mission, which launched on November 16, 2020. As this is the booster’s second flight, its designation will change to B1061-2.

Following stage separation, the Falcon 9 will conduct 2 burns. These burns will softly touch down the booster on Just Read The Instructions around 535 km downrange.

Crew-2 Mission Profile

Countdown and Launch

Hr/Min/Sec              Event

– 00:45:00                 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
– 00:42:00                 Crew access arm retracts
– 00:37:00                 Dragon launch escape system is armed
– 00:35:00                 RP-1 loading begins
– 00:35:00                 1st stage LOx loading begins
– 00:16:00                 2nd stage LOx loading begins
– 00:07:00                 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
– 00:05:00                 Dragon transitions to internal power
– 00:01:00                 Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
– 00:01:00                 Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
– 00:00:45                 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
– 00:00:03                 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
– 00:00:00                 Falcon 9 Liftoff

Launch, Landing, and Dragon 2 Deployment*

Hr/Min/Sec              Event

00:01:02                   Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:36                   1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:39                   1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:47                   2nd stage engine starts
00:07:27                   1st stage entry burn
00:08:47                   2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1)
00:09:03                   1st stage landing burn
00:09:31                   1st stage landing
00:11:58                   Crew Dragon separates from 2nd stage
00:13:02                   Dragon nosecone open sequences begins

*All times are approximate

In case you want even more information on the timeline of the mission, make sure to check out the Mission Timeline Video.

  1. If only the coverage of the Russian Soyus missions was so thorough like with the SpaceX ones

  2. Trying to plan a picture of the launch; is info published about which direction the rocket will go after liftoff?

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