Successful liftoff of a SpaceX rocket to the ISS
Elon Musk is happy, at least good news from space with his SpaceX rocket that carried two American astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and an Emirati astronaut, the rocket took off Thursday, March 2 to join the International Space Station, after the cancellation at the last minute of the launch Monday, February 27.
The liftoff took place Thursday, March 2, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12:34 a.m. local time (05:34 GMT). “The launch of #Crew6 took place on March 2 at 12:34 a.m. (U.S. East Coast, 05:34 GMT), lighting up the sky as the crew heads into orbit aboard the @SpaceX Dragon Endeavour capsule,” the U.S. space agency said on Twitter.
The “Dragon” portion in which the four passengers are traveling is scheduled to dock with the space station (ISS) on Friday, March 3, at 1:17 a.m. local time (6:17 a.m. GMT) after a journey of just over 24 hours. The astronauts will then stay there for about six months.
Three days ago, the takeoff had been cancelled at the last minute because of a technical problem. NASA explained on Wednesday, March 1st that the problem concerned the supply of a liquid used for the ignition of the engines, caused by a “blocked filter”. The filter has been replaced and the crews are now ready for takeoff.
The crew, named Crew-6, is composed of NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, Emirati astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi, and Russian cosmonaut Andrei Fedyev. Sultan al-Neyadi, 41, will become the fourth astronaut from an Arab country in history, the second Emirati, but the first from his country to spend six months in space.
Moreover, even if tensions between Washington and Moscow are at their highest, the two countries have maintained an exchange program allowing Russians to travel with SpaceX, and Americans to travel on Russian Soyuz rockets. The space station is one of the few remaining areas of cooperation between the two countries.
Crew-6 will replace the four members of Crew-5 (two Americans, a Russian and a Japanese), who arrived in October 2022 and will return to Earth aboard their own SpaceX spacecraft, after a few days of handover.
Three other passengers (two Russians and one American) are also on board the space station, arriving with a Soyuz spacecraft. The ISS will thus welcome a few days not less than eleven people.
NASA pays SpaceX to transport its astronauts to the flying laboratory about every six months. They conduct scientific experiments and maintain the station, which has been permanently inhabited for over 22 years. Crew-6 is the sixth crew to visit the ISS on a regular rotation mission provided by billionaire Elon Musk’s company.
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