On Monday i.e. February 27, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is set to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:45 am (0645 GMT). It will be carrying two NASA astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and the second UAE astronaut to go to space. The Crew Dragon capsule, named Endeavour, is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) at 2:38 am (0738 GMT) on Tuesday, February 28.
The crew is made up of NASA’s Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, Russia’s Andrey Fedyaev and the UAE’s Sultan al-Neyadi and they will be spending six months on the ISS. Neyadi will become the second Emirati astronaut and the fourth from an Arab country to travel to space. During their time orbiting the earth, the crew will carry out multiple experiments like studying how materials burn in microgravity and researching heart, brain and cartilage functions.
This will be the sixth crew to be sent to the ISS in a SpaceX rocket. SpaceX charges NASA a fare for ferrying astronauts to the ISS roughly every six months. Crew-6 will have a handover of several calendar days with the four members of the SpaceX Dragon Crew-5. They have been stationed on the ISS since October and now it is Crew-5’s time to return back to Earth.
Two Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev are currently in the ISS. On the other hand NASA’s astronaut, Frank Rubio, is also present in the ISS. They were supposed to return home by March 28 but the cooling system of their Soyuz MS-22 capsule was damaged by a tiny meteoroid in mid-December while docked with the ISS. An unmanned Russian Soyuz capsule, MS-23, took off on Friday from Kazakhstan to bring the astronauts home.
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Russia has been using the older Soyuz capsules to ferry astronauts into space since the 1960s. However, for some years, the country’s space program has been facing a series of mishaps. Despite tensions on earth, politics rarely come up while in space. Bowen, a veteran with three space missions, mentioned that the crew members keep their focus on the mission and there has always been a cordial relationship with cosmonauts once they reach space.
A 24 hour delay in launch of the Crew-6 mission occurred due to minor issues with the launch vehicle. The officials stated that the issues have been resolved and that everything is ready for the blastoff.