A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on Thursday for the International Space Station carrying two NASA astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and another Emirati, on a spacewalk.
The SpaceX Dragon Crew-6 mission was launched at 12:34 a.m. (0534 GMT) on Thursday from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Monday’s launch was scrubbed just minutes before liftoff due to a blockage in the filter supplying the ignition fluid to start the rocket engine.
lift off! Dragon takes flight!#crew6 Launched on March 2 at 12:34 a.m. ET (0534 UTC), lighting up the skies as the crew climbed into orbit @spacex Dragon Endeavor spacecraft. pic.twitter.com/lEgqJmRu76
— NASA (@NASA) March 2, 2023
The US space agency tweeted that the SpaceX Dragon Endeavor “lights up the skies as crew heads into orbit” on Thursday.
The Dragon crew capsule, called Endeavour, is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 1:17 am (0617 GMT) on Friday after a 24-hour journey.
Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoberg of NASA, Andrey Fadeev of Russia and Sultan Al-Neyadi of the United Arab Emirates are to spend six months on the orbiting station.
Neyadi, 41, will be the fourth astronaut from an Arab country and the second from the oil-rich UAE to travel to space; His compatriot Hazza al-Mansoori flew in for an eight-day mission in 2019.
Neyadi, Hoburg, the Endeavor pilot, and Fedyaev, the Russian mission specialist, will all be making their first space flights.
Fadeev is the second Russian cosmonaut to fly to the ISS on a SpaceX rocket. NASA astronauts regularly fly to the station on Russian Soyuz vehicles.
Space remains a rare site of cooperation between Moscow and Washington as the Russian offensive in Ukraine put them at sharp contrast.
Bowen, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, said politics rarely comes to the fore in space.
“We are all professionals. We remain focused on the mission,” he said. “We’ve always had a great relationship with the astronauts once they get into space.”
– Rescue Capsule –
While aboard the ISS, Crew 6 members will conduct dozens of experiments, including burning materials in microgravity and researching heart, brain and cartilage function.
The current crew is the sixth to be carried by a SpaceX rocket to the ISS. The Endeavor capsule has gone into space three times before.
NASA pays SpaceX to fly astronauts to the ISS approximately every six months.
The agency expects Crew-6 to have a handover of several days with the four members of Crew-5 that have been on the ISS since October. Crew-5 will then return to Earth.
The ISS also houses cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio.
They were scheduled to return to Earth on March 28, but their Soyuz MS-22 capsule’s cooling system was damaged by a small meteorite while docked with the ISS in December.
An uncrewed Russian Soyuz capsule, MS-23, was launched from Kazakhstan last month to bring them home. He is now scheduled to return in September.
Construction of the ISS began in 1998 at a time of increased US–Russia cooperation following the Cold War space race.
Russia has been using the old but reliable Soyuz capsule to carry astronauts into space since the 1960s.
But in recent years, Russia’s space program has been beset by problems that have resulted in the loss of satellites and vehicles.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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