Aerospace Engineering Alumna to Take Second Space Flight

Aug 25, 2020

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Aerospace engineering alumna and NASA astronaut Megan McArthur will soon visit the International Space Station for the first time following a previous trip to space in 2009 .

As the pilot of SpaceX’s second crewed flight, McArthur will join a team of four astronauts in spring 2021, for a six-month exploration aboard the ISS. SpaceX just celebrated Crew Dragon’s historic NASA astronaut splashdown when the capsule that carried McArthur’s astronaut husband Bob Behnken safely returned to earth off the coast of Pensacola, Florida on August 2.

The Crew Dragon allows NASA to keep seven crew members aboard the space station, compared to the current capacity of six. The extra astronaut will enable NASA to double the amount of science conducted in space. With SpaceX and other commercial companies working on sending astronauts to low earth orbit, NASA is also free to devote its attention to working on spacecraft for missions to the moon, Mars and beyond.

McArthur was selected as an astronaut in 2000, and was a mission specialist aboard space shuttle Atlantis on her first mission to space in 2009. She controlled the shuttle’s robotic arm as the crew spent 12 days and 21 hours fulfilling its mission — repairing and upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope for the final time. Part of UCLA’s history went along on that trip, as McArthur took with her a miniature IMP, the computer switch that served as the first node of the internet at UCLA in 1969.

McArthur received a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from UCLA in 1993, and a Ph.D. in oceanography from UC San Diego. She went on to work at NASA in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory as well as Mission Control centers for the Space Station and Space Shuttle.

In 2009, UCLA did an interview with McArthur before her first trip to space.