A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched to the International Space Station on Thursday carrying two NASA astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and the second Emirati to travel to space.
The SpaceX Dragon Crew-6 mission launched at 12:34 a.m. (0534 GMT) Thursday from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a live stream of the launch showed.
The launch was scrubbed just minutes before launch on Monday due to a blockage in a filter that supplies ignition fluid to start the rocket motors.
To take off! Dragon flies!#Crew6 launched at 00:34 a.m. ET (0534 UTC) on March 2, lighting up the sky as the crew heads for orbit in the @SpaceX Dragon Endeavor spacecraft. pic.twitter.com/lEgqJmRu76
— NASA (@NASA) March 2, 2023
The US space agency tweeted that the SpaceX Dragon Endeavor departed Thursday “to lighten the sky as the crew heads to orbit.”
The Dragon crew capsule, named Endeavor, is expected to dock with the ISS at 1:17 am (0617 GMT) Friday after a 24-hour journey.
NASA’s Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, Russia’s Andrey Fedyaev and United Arab Emirates’ Sultan al-Neyadi will spend six months on the orbiting station.
Neyadi, 41, becomes the fourth astronaut from an Arab country and the second from the oil-rich UAE to travel to space; his compatriot Hazzaa al-Mansoori flew an eight-day mission in 2019.
Neyadi, Hoburg, the Endeavor pilot, and Fedyaev, the Russian mission specialist, will all make their first spaceflights.
Fedyaev is the second Russian cosmonaut to fly to the ISS on a SpaceX rocket. NASA astronauts regularly fly to the station on Russian Soyuz craft.
Space travel has remained a rare place of cooperation between Moscow and Washington since the Russian offensive in Ukraine placed them in sharp opposition.
Bowen, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, said politics are rarely discussed in space.
“We are all professionals. We stay focused on the mission itself,” he said. “It’s always been a great relationship that we’ve had with cosmonauts once we’re in space.”
– Rescue Capsule –
Aboard the ISS, Crew-6 members will conduct dozens of experiments, including studying how materials burn in microgravity and examining heart, brain and cartilage functions.
The current crew is the sixth to be transported to the ISS on a SpaceX rocket. The Endeavor capsule has flown into space three times before.
NASA pays SpaceX about every six months to transport astronauts to the ISS.
The agency expects Crew-6 to have a handover for several days with the four members of Crew-5 who have been aboard the ISS since October. Crew-5 then returns to Earth.
Also aboard the ISS are cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio.
They were due to return to Earth on March 28, but their Soyuz MS-22 capsule’s cooling system was damaged by a small meteoroid in December while docked with the ISS.
An unmanned Russian Soyuz capsule, MS-23, launched from Kazakhstan last month to take them home. They are now scheduled to return in September.
Construction of the ISS began in 1998 at a time of increased cooperation between the US and Russia following the Cold War space race.
Russia has been using the outdated but reliable Soyuz capsules to launch astronauts into space since the 1960s.
But in recent years, the Russian space program has been plagued by a laundry list of problems that have led to the loss of satellites and vehicles.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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