Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX delivered a crew of four to the International Space Station early Thursday.
The SpaceX launch vehicle carrying a Russian cosmonaut and a UAE astronaut and two Nasa crew members lifted off at 5:34 a.m. local time from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
A live webcast from Nasa showed the 25-story spacecraft rising from the launch tower as its nine Merlin engines burst to life in billowing clouds of steam and a reddish ball of fire that lit the predawn sky.
The flight took place 72 hours after a first attempt at takeoff was aborted in the closing minutes of the countdown early Monday because the flow of pilot fluid was blocked.
According to Nasa, the problem was fixed by replacing a clogged filter and flushing the system.
About nine minutes after launch on Thursday, the rocket’s upper stage placed the Crew Dragon in preliminary orbit as it sped through space at more than 20 times the speed of sound.
The reusable lower-tier Falcon booster, meanwhile, flew itself back to Earth and landed safely on a salvage ship adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, dubbed Just Read the Instructions.
Shortly after the capsule reached orbit, a SpaceX mission control manager was heard jokingly radioing the crew, “If you enjoyed your ride, please don’t forget to give us five stars.”
The crew commander, NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen, radioed back: “We want to thank you for the great ride into orbit today.”
The journey to the International Space Station (ISS), a laboratory orbiting about 420km above Earth, was expected to take almost 25 hours, with the meeting scheduled for Friday around 6.15am.
The crew’s six-month scientific mission will include approximately 200 experiments and technology demonstrations, ranging from studying human cell growth in space to controlling combustible materials in microgravity.
Dubbed Crew 6, the mission is the sixth long-term ISS team that Nasa has flown aboard SpaceX since the private rocket company Musk founded began sending American astronauts into orbit in May 2020.
The newest ISS crew was led by Bowen, 59, a former US Navy submarine officer who has spent more than 40 days in orbit as a veteran of three Space Shuttle flights and seven spacewalks.
NASA fellow Warren ‘Woody’ Hoburg, 37, an engineer and commercial aviator billed as the Crew 6 pilot, made his first spaceflight.
The Crew 6 mission was also notable for the inclusion of UAE astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, 41, who became only the second person from his country to fly into space and the first from US soil as part of a long-term space station teams launched.
Rounding out Crew 6 of four was Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, 42, who like Alneyadi is an engineer and space rookie designated as the team’s mission specialist.
Fedyaev is the second cosmonaut to fly aboard an American spacecraft under a renewed rideshare deal signed by NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency in July, despite heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Crew 6 team is welcomed aboard the space station by seven current ISS occupants – three NASA crew members including Commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Native American woman to fly into space, along with three Russians and one Japanese astronaut.
The ISS, about the length of a football field, has been operated continuously for more than two decades by a US-Russian-led consortium including Canada, Japan and 11 European countries.
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https://metro.co.uk/2023/03/02/spacex-launches-4-man-crew-to-space-station-for-nasa-18373766/ SpaceX is sending a crew of 4 to the space station for Nasa