SpaceX, NASA to launch a crew of international astronauts to the space station

(CNN) SpaceX and NASA are preparing to launch a new crew to the International Space Station, continuing public-private efforts Maintaining a fully staffed orbital laboratory and the return of astronauts to American soil. This mission will include crews from around the world – two NASA astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule are expected to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 1:45 a.m. ET on Monday.

The Crew Dragon, the vehicle carrying the astronauts, separates from the rocket after launch and will spend about a day maneuvering in orbit before linking up with the International Space Station. The capsule is scheduled to dock with the space station at 2:38 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

This mission will be the seventh astronaut flight that SpaceX has flown on behalf of NASA since 2020.

On board the Crew-6 team will include NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, and First Pilot Warren Hoburg, as well as Sultan Al Neyadi, who will be the second astronaut from the United Arab Emirates ever to travel to space. and Russian cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev.

Once Bowen, Hoborg, Fedayev, and El Neyadi are on the International Space Station, they will work to take over operations from the SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts who He arrived at the space station in October 2022.

They are expected to spend up to six months aboard the orbiting laboratory, conducting science experiments and maintaining the two-decade-old station.

The mission comes as Crew-5 astronauts currently on the International Space Station grapple with a separate transportation issue. In December, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that was being used to transport two cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut to the space station developed a coolant leak. After the capsule was deemed unsafe to return cosmonauts, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, A replacement vehicle launched on February 23rd. I arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday.

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Work with the Russians

Russian cosmonaut Fedyaev joined Crew-6 as part of a Ride sharing agreement It took place last year between NASA and Roscosmos. The agreement aims to ensure continued access to the International Space Station for both Roscosmos and NASA: Should the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule or the Russian Soyuz spacecraft used to transport people there run into difficulties and decommission them, the other can handle getting astronauts from both. countries into orbit.

This will be Fedyaev’s first mission into space.

Despite the ongoing geopolitical tensions sparked by its invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, Russia remains the United States’ primary partner on the International Space Station. NASA has repeatedly said that the conflict had no impact on cooperation between the two countries’ space agencies.

“Space cooperation has a very long history, and we are setting an example for how people live on Earth,” Fedyaev said during a January 24 press briefing.

Astronauts from SpaceX Crew-6 pose for a photo after arriving at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch and Landing Facility in Florida on February 21, 2023. From left, Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Cosmonaut Sultan Al Neyadi, NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburgh and Stephen Bowen.

Bowen, the 59-year-old NASA astronaut who will be the Crew-6 mission commander, also weighed in.

“I’ve been working and training with astronauts for over 20 years, and it’s always been amazing,” he said during the briefing. “Once you get into space, we’ll have one crew and one vehicle, and we all have the same goal.”

Bowen grew up in Cohasset, Massachusetts, and studied engineering, earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the US Naval Academy in 1986 and a master’s degree in ocean engineering from the MIT and Woods Hole Joint Oceanography Program in 1993.

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He also completed military submarine training and served in the Navy before being selected to the NASA Astronaut Corps in 2000, becoming the first submarine officer selected by the space agency.

He previously completed three missions between 2008 and 2011, during NASA’s space shuttle program, and logged a total of more than 47 days in space.

“I just hope my body will hold the memory of 12 years ago so I can enjoy it,” Bowen said of the Crew-6 launch.

Meet the rest of Crew-6

Hoburg, who is the pilot for this mission, is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, before becoming an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronomy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the NASA astronaut team in 2017.

“We’re going to live in space for six months. I think back to six months ago and I think – well, that’s a long time,” Hoburgh told reporters of his expectations for the trip.

But, Hoburgh added, “I’m very much looking forward to getting a glimpse of the dome first,” referring to the famous one An area on the International Space Station that features a large window that provides panoramic views of Earth.

Al Neyadi, who served as a backup in 2019 to Hazza Al Mansoori, is now set to become the first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates to travel into orbit, and the first Emirati astronaut to complete a long stay in space.

At a press conference in January, Al Neyadi said he planned to bring Middle Eastern food to share with his colleagues while he was in space. A trained jiu-jitsu practitioner, he’ll also pack a kimono, the traditional martial arts outfit.

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Al Neyadi said in A Press Conference After arriving at Kennedy Space Center on February 21 “I couldn’t ask for more from the team. I think we’re ready – physically, mentally and technically.”

What will they do in space

During their mission in space, Crew-6 astronauts will oversee more than 200 science-oriented projects, including research on how certain materials burn in a microgravity environment and investigating microbial samples to be collected from the outside of the International Space Station.

They will host two other major missions that will stop by the International Space Station during their stay. The first is the Boeing Crew flight test, which will mark the first astronaut mission under the Boeing-NASA partnership. Scheduled for April, the flight will bring NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Sunita Williams to the space station, marking the final stage of a test and demonstration program that Boeing needs to certify the Starliner spacecraft for routine astronaut missions.

Then, in May, a group of four astronauts will arrive on a mission called AX-2 — a privately funded tourism mission to the space station. That mission, to be carried out by a separate SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, will include former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, now a private astronaut with Texas-based space tourism company Axiom, which brokered and organized the mission.

It will also include Three paying clientsSimilar to the AX-1 mission He visited the International Space Station last years.

Bowen said in January that the Boeing CFT mission and the AX-2 will be major stops.

“It’s another paradigm shift,” he said. “Those two events — huge events — in spaceflight that happen during our hyperstimulus, plus all the other work we have to do, I don’t think we’ll be fully able to grasp until after the fact.”

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