NASA-SpaceX crew-6 mission enroute to space for scientific research

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SpaceX on Thursday for the seventh time launched an international crew of four astronauts — two from NASA and one each from Roscosmos and the UAE.

“Liftoff! Dragon takes flight!” NASA wrote on Twitter.

The Crew-6 mission launched to the International Space Station (ISS) at 12.34 a.m. ET (11.04 a.m. IST) from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida onboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft.

The mission was originally scheduled to blast off to space on Monday but was scrubbed a few minutes before the liftoff due to an issue with the ignition system.

It prevented data from confirming a full load of the ignition source for the Falcon 9 first-stage Merlin engines, triethyl aluminum triethyl boron (or TEA-TEB).

Another launch opportunity on Tuesday was also dropped due to unfavorable weather forecast conditions, NASA and SpaceX had said.

The dragon carrying the crew is now expected to reach the ISS after a 25-hour journey and stay in the orbiting laboratory for six months conducting scientific research.

The Crew 6 includes NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.

Alneyadi will be making his first trip to space, representing the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center of the UAE.

Alneyadi will be the first UAE astronaut to fly on a commercial spacecraft. Once aboard the station, he will become a flight engineer for Expedition 69.

Fedyaev will be making his first trip to space, and will also serve as a mission specialist, working to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. He will be a flight engineer for Expedition 69.

The team is expected to perform more than 200 science, and technology demonstrations, and maintenance activities aboard the microgravity laboratory.

The experiments include studies of how particular materials burn in microgravity, tissue chip research on heart, brain, and cartilage functions, and an investigation that will collect microbial samples from the outside of the space station.

The flight is the sixth crew rotation mission with SpaceX to the station, and the seventh flight of Dragon with people as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme.

The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft previously flew NASA’s Crew-1, Inspiration4, and Axiom Mission-1 astronauts.

As part of the refurbishment process, teams have installed new components, including the heat shield, nosecone, trunk, and all forward bulkhead and service section Draco engines. These hardware components help the spacecraft withstand reentry heat, support docking, and cargo space, and provide steering and thrust to the spacecraft.

During their stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, Crew-6 will also see the arrival of cargo spacecraft including the SpaceX Dragon and the Roscosmos Progress.

Crew-6 also is expected to welcome the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts and the Axiom Mission-2 crew during their expedition.

At the conclusion of the mission, Dragon Endeavour will autonomously undock with the four crew members aboard, depart the space station and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

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