NASA and SpaceX Launch Historic Crew-6 Mission to ISS
NASA and SpaceX launched a Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 2, 2023, sending four astronauts into orbit. This is the sixth commercial crew rotation mission with SpaceX and will enable NASA to maximize use of the ISS, where astronauts have lived and worked continuously for more than 22 years.
The mission includes two NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, the United Arab Emirates Sultan Al-Neyadi and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev. Retired submarine officer Capt. Stephen Bowen is the mission commander and will serve as an Expedition 69 flight engineer. Al-Neyadi is the second individual from the United Arab Emirates to be involved in a space mission and he is the first Arab astronaut to embark on an extended stay on the International Space Station. Fedyaev is the second cosmonaut to fly on board an American spacecraft under a renewed ride-sharing deal signed in July by NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
The Crew-6 mission marks an important milestone in space exploration, as the astronauts will oversee more than 200 science and tech projects, including researching how some substances burn in the microgravity environment and investigating microbial samples that will be collected from the exterior of the space station. This month, SpaceX hopes to launch the inaugural orbital test flight of Starship from Starbase, the organization's facility in South Texas.
The mission was originally scheduled to launch on February 27, but was scrubbed due to a ground systems issue. The flawless takeoff finally occurred after the scheduled liftoff of this rocket was cancelled two days prior, on February 27, with only a couple of minutes left on the countdown timer due to a problem with the ignition system. A new filter was put in by SpaceX, and the countdown was restarted.
Hoburg was ecstatic upon reaching orbit, having just experienced an exhilarating journey. “Wow, that was quite a journey for a first-time flyer – thank you!” he radioed back to SpaceX's flight control center. This engineering feat is nothing short of miraculous, and I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to take flight in this incredible machine.
The Crew 6 team will be welcomed aboard the space station by seven current ISS occupants – three NASA crew members, including commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Indigenous American woman to fly to space, along with three Russians and a Japanese astronaut.
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