Astronaut from Georgia set to launch to space station next week

ATLANTA — There is a lot of hometown pride for an astronaut set to launch into space next week.

R. Shane Kimbrough is one of four crewmembers of the SpaceX Crew-2 flight, which is a joint mission with NASA on April 22.

The crew will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket in a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station.

The members include Shane Kimbrough, K. Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet.

Kimbrough has many Georgia ties, including graduating from the Lovett School in Atlanta in 1985 and receiving a master’s degree from Georgia Tech. He also was assigned to Fort Stewart in 1990.

Lovett has been posting on social media “throwback” pictures of Kimbrough when he was a student.

This will be the third astronaut launch in less than a year.

They will spend six months at the orbiting lab, replacing another SpaceX crew that’s close to coming home.

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This will be the first crew flight using a recycled Falcon and Dragon. Both were designed for reuse.

The rocket was used to launch the current station crew last November from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The capsule, dubbed Endeavour, also will be making a repeat performance; it carried two test pilots to the space station on SpaceX’s first crew flight last spring.

SpaceX refurbished both and added safety upgrades. Most of the capsule is already “flight proven,” company officials noted, except for some new valves, thermal protection covers and parachutes.

Three of the astronauts are back for their second space station mission: NASA’s Shane Kimbrough, France’s Thomas Pesquet and Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide. NASA astronaut Megan McArthur was part of the final Hubble Space Telescope repair team in 2009.

For nearly a decade, the only route to the space station for astronauts was on Russian rockets. NASA turned to private companies for taxi service after the space shuttles retired in 2011. SpaceX has been shipping cargo to the space station since 2012, using the same kind of rocket and similar capsules, and recycling those parts as well.