U.S. Space Force Will Soon Have Its First Service Member In Orbit

U.S. Space Force Will Soon Have Its First Service Member In Orbit
SpaceX Crew-1 Commercial Crew Portrait The SpaceX Crew-1 official crew portrait with (from left) NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi. – Credits: NASA/Norah Moran

According to SpaceNews, U.S. Air Force colonel and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins is the commander of the four-person Crew-1 mission currently scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Nov. 14.

He was already planning to transfer from the Air Force to the Space Force, and now Space Force leadership is hoping to commission him during a ceremony held in orbit.

“If all goes well, we’re looking to swear him into the Space Force from the International Space Station,” said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force.

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Col. Catie Hague, a spokesperson for the chief of space operations, told SpaceNews that the service is working with NASA to schedule a transfer ceremony once Hopkins is on board the International Space Station. 

Hopkins, like hundreds of other airmen who are now in the Space Force, is transferring voluntarily. He was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 2009.

Hopkins would be the first member of the Space Force to serve in NASA’s astronaut corps. Hague noted that for more than 60 years, men and women from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard have helped fill the ranks of the astronaut corps. “The U.S. Space Force, as the newest military service, is looking forward to contributing to this legacy,” Hague said.

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Raymond is working with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the details of a planned transfer ceremony “as a way to spotlight the decades-long partnership between DoD and NASA,” Hague said

Accompanying Hopkins on his SpaceX launch will be NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. The foursome will spend six months in space as the first full-fledged crewed mission the company launches to orbit.

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SpaceX is one of two companies with NASA contracts to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The other company is Boeing, which will fly astronauts on its own Starliner spacecraft. SpaceX’s first crewed flight, the Demo-2 mission, launched two astronauts on a four-month flight in May.

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