SpaceX Launches Crew 6 on Historic Six-Month Mission to ISS
SpaceX launched a crew of four astronauts on a six month mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 2, 2023. The crew is composed of two NASA astronauts, Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, United Arab Emirates' Sultan Alneyadi, and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev. The launch was originally scheduled for Feb. 27 but was delayed due to an issue with the ignition system. Engineers found and replaced a clogged filter, and the launch was rescheduled for the next day.
The launch took place from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The reusable first stage booster, designated B1078-1, performed its inaugural flight. The Falcon 9 first stage will attempt a vertical landing atop the Just Read the Instructions droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Once in orbit, the crew will spend some time orbiting Earth and aligning the Dragon for docking with the ISS a little more than 24 hours later. Upon docking, the four men will be subsumed into Expedition 69, raising the ISS population to 11. AlNeyadi, 41, will be the first Arab to make a long-duration space flight.
The Crew 6 team will be welcomed aboard the space station by seven current ISS occupants – three US NASA crew members, three Russians and a Japanese astronaut. The mission marks the fourth flight of the Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule, and the ninth crewed flight for SpaceX, and its sixth operational mission for NASA's Commercial Crew program.
But their Soyuz MS-22 ferry ship was crippled Dec. 14 when a presumed micrometeoroid ruptured a coolant line. Following an evaluation, Russian engineers determined that the spacecraft could not be employed again due to the risk that vulnerable systems might become too hot. To get the crew rotation schedule back on track, the trio will have to spend an additional six months in space, coming home this fall after a full year in orbit.
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