SpaceX launched another group of astronauts to the International Space Station on Thursday, March 2, after the launch was delayed earlier in the week due to problems with ground systems. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket launched from launch pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and sent the Crew Dragon spacecraft into Earth orbit. The Crew-6 team consists of NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev. They are expected to reach the ISS on Friday, March 3, to begin a six-month stay in orbit.
A previous Crew-6 launch attempt was canceled on Monday due to a problem with the ground system that supplied liquid oxygen to ignite the rocket booster’s nine engines. In a blog post on Wednesday, NASA said the problem was due to a “clogged filter”. SpaceX crews replaced the filter and declared themselves ready for launch.
SpaceX’s outstanding flight for the UAE
The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is currently transporting Crew-6 astronauts to the station. Previously, it delivered three crews to the ISS, including Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, astronauts whose test flight in 2020 became the first American astronaut mission to space, after the Space Shuttle program was decommissioned in 2011.
The next time I address you, I will be aboard the International Space Station. 🚀
I will be speaking to you carrying the flag of our nation on my arm and Zayed’s Ambition in my heart. 🇦🇪
Keep me in your prayers, and we will soon be in touch.
Sultan AlNeyadi pic.twitter.com/GNsHNqLEYX
— Sultan AlNeyadi (@Astro_Alneyadi) March 2, 2023
This mission was described as historic in the United Arab Emirates, a country seeking to position itself as a leader in space exploration among Asian countries. The UAE is proud of its first Arab astronaut, Sultan Alneyadi, who has embarked on a long-term mission to the space station. On Thursday, UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan congratulated Sultan Alneyadi on the first step in his pioneering mission aboard the ISS.
Waiting for Starliner flights
This mission was the sixth for SpaceX as part of a collaboration to send astronauts into space for NASA. Elon Musk’s company has received a contract worth USD 2.6 billion under the agency’s Commercial Crew program. During this time, a test flight of two NASA astronauts was also carried out in 2020, and two private crews were also delivered to orbit.
Boeing also has a contract with the agency to transport astronauts to and from the station on a Starliner, but its contract was for a much larger amount – USD 4.2 billion. However, Boeing has faced a number of technical problems, because of which it has not yet made a single flight with a crew. The company hopes that its first test flight with a pair of astronauts will take place in April.
Trapped in space
The flight took place a few days after a Russian rescue spacecraft arrived at the ISS to replace another one that had a coolant leak due to a hole in the body. Roscosmos decided not to risk the return of cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, as well as American NASA astronaut Frank Rubio to Earth on an emergency spacecraft. Therefore, another Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft was sent to rescue those “stuck” in space.
Earlier, we reported on how SpaceX launched the first batch of the next generation Starlink.
According to Washington Post
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