May 30, 2024


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SpaceX launches an international crew of astronauts on a space station mission

SpaceX launches an international crew of astronauts on a space station mission

(CNN) SpaceX and NASA have launched a new crew of astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station, kicking off a nearly six-month stay in space.

The mission — carrying two NASA astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates — took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 12:34 a.m. ET Thursday.

The Crew Dragon, the vehicle carrying the astronauts, separated from the rocket after reaching orbit and is expected to spend about a day maneuvering through space before linking up with the space station. The capsule is scheduled to dock at 1:17 a.m. ET on Friday.

Thursday’s launch marked the second attempt to launch this mission, called Crew-6, from Earth. the First launch attempt on Monday because of what officials said was a deadlocked candidate.

during the broadcast, officials reported that ground systems engineers made the decision to cancel the launch with less than three minutes on the clock. Engineers said they have discovered a problem with a material called triethylaluminum triethylboron, or TEA-TEB, which is a highly flammable liquid used to ignite the engines of the Falcon 9 rocket at liftoff.

The problem occurred during the “bleeding” process, which is intended to ensure that each of the nine Falcon 9 rocket engines is supplied with enough TEA-TEB fluid when it’s time to ignite. The problem arose when fluid migrated from a reservoir on Earth into a “catch tank,” according to NASA.

“After a thorough review of the ground data and system, NASA and SpaceX have determined that there is a decrease in flow to the TEA-TEB catch tank due to a clogged ground filter,” according to an update from NASA posted in website early wed.

NASA said the clogged filter explained the abnormal data its engineers saw on launch day.

Benji Reed, director of Crew Mission Management at SpaceX, said data reviews found the rocket probably would have taken off without a hitch despite the filter being clogged, though flight controllers didn’t have enough data during the countdown to be sure.

“This is not the way we want to launch people,” Reid said during a post-launch news conference Thursday. “We want people to know for sure it’s going to be okay.”

Officials said the TEA-TEB system performed admirably Thursday, though engineers had to troubleshoot at least one bug after liftoff.

An issue emerged with a sensor on one of the six hooks used to secure the Crew Dragon’s nose cone, a cap on the top of the spacecraft that protects the International Space Station’s docking hardware during launch. But Crew Dragon was able to use a backup system to open the nose cone.

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The hook is also used when spacecraft are attached to the International Space Station, securing the craft to its docking port. Reid said the sensor shouldn’t be a problem because there are additional sensors to provide data.

Crew-6 astronauts waited aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Tuesday during the countdown to launch, which was eventually canceled due to a problem with ground systems.

Everything about this launch

This mission marks the seventh astronaut flight undertaken by SpaceX on behalf of NASA since 2020, continuing public and private efforts to preserve the orbiting laboratory. in full.

Crew-6’s onboard team includes NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, and First Pilot Warren “Woody” Hoburg, as well as Sultan Al Neyadi, the second astronaut from the United Arab Emirates to space. and Russian cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev.

Once Bowen, Hoborg, Fedayev, and Alniadi aboard the space station, they will work to take over operations from the SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts who 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 the astronauts currently on the space station are facing a separate transportation problem. In December, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that was used to carry cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio 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 got to the space station on Saturday.

What will they do in space

During their mission in space, Crew-6 astronauts will oversee more than 200 science and technology projects, including research on how certain materials burn in a microgravity environment and investigating bacterial samples that will be collected from outside the space station.

The crew will host two other major missions that will stop at the 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.

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Then, in May, a group of four astronauts is scheduled to arrive on Axiom Mission 2, or AX-2 for short—a privately funded spaceflight to the space station. The initiative, which will deploy a separate SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, will have its leader Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut and now a private astronaut with the Texas-based space company Axiom, who brokered and organized the mission.

It will also include three paying customers, similar to Axiom Mission 1, which visited the space station in April 2022, including astronauts from Saudi Arabia who visited the orbiting laboratory. Their seats have already been paid for Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Work with the Russians

Russian cosmonaut Fedyaev joined Crew-6 as part of a Ride sharing agreement It took place in 2022 between NASA and Roscosmos. The agreement aims to ensure continued access to the space station for both Roscosmos and NASA: Should a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule or the Russian Soyuz spacecraft used to transport people there run into difficulties and decommission them, its counterpart could handle getting astronauts from both countries into orbit.

This flight marks Fedyaev’s first mission into space.

Despite the ongoing geopolitical tensions sparked by its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia remains the United States’ primary partner on the space station. NASA officials have repeatedly said that the conflict had no impact on cooperation between the two nations’ 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.

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

Astronauts from SpaceX Crew-6 pose for a photo after arriving at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Feb. 21: (from left) Roscosmos astronaut Andrey Fedyaev, Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, NASA astronauts Warren “Woody” Hoburg and Stephen Bowen.

“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.”

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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.

He also completed military submarine training and served in the US Navy before being selected for 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 a pilot for this mission, is a native of Pittsburgh who earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, before becoming an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. He joined the NASA astronaut team in 2017.

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

But Hoburgh added, “I’m very much looking forward to getting a look at the dome first,” referring to the well-known area on the space station that features a large window that offers panoramic views of Earth.

Al Neyadi, who served as a backup in 2019 to Hazza Ali 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. As a trained jiu-jitsu practitioner, he’ll also pack a kimono, the traditional martial arts outfit.

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.”