March 20, 2023

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A SpaceX rocket carrying a multinational crew towards the space station

A SpaceX rocket carrying a multinational crew towards the space station

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Two American astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates were safely on their way to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, as their SpaceX spacecraft approached their scheduled rendezvous with the orbiting laboratory. NASA said.

SpaceX’s autonomously flying Crew Dragon capsule was scheduled to arrive at the space station and dock with the pad just after 1:15 a.m. EDT (0515 GMT) Friday, about 25 hours after its launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Control of the spacecraft will be handed over from the SpaceX Mission Control Center near Los Angeles to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston once Crew Dragon is ready to dock with the International Space Station.

The team of four is expected to spend six months aboard the International Space Station conducting more than 200 experiments and technology demonstrations, from research on growing human cells in space to controlling combustible materials in microgravity.

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The US space agency said some of the research will help pave the way for future, long-term human missions to the Moon and beyond under NASA’s Artemis program, which will be succeeded by Apollo.

The mission, designated Crew 6, is the ISS SpaceX team’s sixth long-duration flight to fly for NASA since billionaire Elon Musk’s private rocket project began sending American astronauts into orbit in May 2020. Musk is the CEO of electric car maker Tesla (TSLA). .O) and the social networking platform Twitter.

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Submarine and engineers

The newest crew was led by Stephen Bowen, 59, a former US Navy submarine officer who logged more than 40 days in orbit as a veteran of three space shuttle flights and seven spacewalks. NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 37, an electrical engineer, computer science expert, and designated commercial pilot, was making his first spaceflight.

The Crew 6 mission also featured Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, 41, the second person from his country to fly into space and the first person to launch from US soil as part of a long-term space station team.

Rounding out the four-man Squad 6 is Russian cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev, 42, who like Alleidy is an engineer and up-and-coming astronaut assigned as the team’s mission specialist.

Fedyaev is the second astronaut to fly on a US spacecraft under a new ride-sharing deal signed in July by NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos, despite rising tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Crew 6 will be welcomed aboard the space station by seven current ISS passengers — three NASA crew members, including Commander Nicole Onabu Mann, the first Native American woman to fly into space, along with three Russians and a Japanese astronaut .

These seven are expected to complete their mission and leave the space station this month. Four of them in a SpaceX Dragon will return to orbit in October, and three more will return home in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that was flown empty to the International Space Station last week to replace one that leaked coolant while docked to the station in December.

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The Crew 6 launch came 72 hours after an initial takeoff attempt was canceled in the final minutes of the countdown early Monday due to an irregular flow of engine fluid. NASA said the system worked perfectly after replacing a clogged filter and clearing the lines.

The launch eventually happened with no bump. But a faulty sensor was also detected on one of the 36 switches attached to a dozen grappling hooks used to hold the nose of the ISS crew capsule, but there is enough redundancy in this system that there are no problems with docking or closing the nose cone. expected, NASA and SpaceX officials said.

The launch and rendezvous marked the 40th anniversary of SpaceX’s first “Demo-1” uncrewed test flight of the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station and back in 2019.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles). Editing by David Gregorio

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