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Next SpaceX crew launching to Space Station heads to Kennedy Space Center ahead of Halloween flight

SpaceX's Crew-3 astronauts. (L to R) NASA's Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and ESA's Matthias Mauer. Photo: NASA
SpaceX's Crew-3 astronauts. (L to R) NASA's Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and ESA's Matthias Mauer. Photo: NASA

The next crew of astronauts heading to the International Space Station are traveling to Kennedy Space Center this weekend, ahead of their launch on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule later this month.

Three NASA astronauts and one European Space Agency astronaut make up the next crew launching to the station, spending about six months on the orbiting outpost.

NASA's Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron and ESA's Matthias Mauer from Germany will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on about a 22-hour ride to the station.

The Crew-3 astronauts will launch in a brand new SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule which the crew named Endurance. "We'll be the first ones to use Endurance, but it won't be the last time it's used," said Chari, who is Crew-3's commander. "It's going to be used many times for many mission and support long-duration space flights."

But before their October 30 launch, the crew is traveling from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to Florida's Kennedy Space Center to complete final fit checks and training, including a final testing of their custom-made spacesuits.

Chari, Barron and Matthias are spaceflight rookies, flying on their first mission to orbit. Marshburn flew on both the Space Shuttle and Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Once this crew arrives, the current crew of four other SpaceX-flown astronauts will return to Earth, splashing down off the coast of Florida. Once on board the ISS, the crew will monitor science experiments from the space station and conduct maintenance on the space station.

If the launch goes as scheduled, the crew will arrive at the station on October 31. "I think we may have a surprise in store for us when we cross the hatch on Halloween," said Barron.

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."