SpaceX Visits International Space Station


This artist's concept shows a SpaceX Crew Dragon docking with the International Space Station, as it will during a mission for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. | Image by SpaceX, NASA

New crew members have arrived at the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA announced that the SpaceX Crew-6 arrived safely at the ISS at 1:40 a.m. EST on Friday, according to Space.com.

The spacecraft docked an hour late due to a faulty sensor with one of the hooks used to connect the capsule to the ISS. In the end, ground teams sent a software override to solve the sensor problem and enable the capsule to dock.

“We’re happy to be here,” Crew-6 commander Stephen Bowen said, per Space.com, speaking on behalf of his three crewmates: NASA’s Woody Hoburg, Sultan Al Neyadi from the UAE, and Andrey Fedyaev from Russia. Al Neyadi is the first UAE astronaut to embark on an extended commercial spaceflight.

The astronauts were expected to board the ISS around 3:18 a.m. EST on Friday.

This new crew was carried to space in a Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Endeavour, propelled by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch was originally planned for February 27 but was canceled due to technical issues with the engine ignition system, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. 

Russian officials had also recently sent a new emergency craft to the station for its cosmonauts after the previous craft had been damaged by a micrometeorite.

This launch marks NASA’s sixth commercial crew rotation in partnership with SpaceX.

“The Commercial Crew Program is proof American ingenuity and leadership in space benefits all of humanity — through groundbreaking science, innovative technology, and newfound partnership,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, according to a press release. “Crew-6 will be busy aboard the International Space Station, conducting over 200 experiments that will help us to prepare for missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, as well as improve life here on Earth,” he continued.

NASA said that Crew-6’s mission will be to conduct research for eventual exploration beyond the low earth orbit. The crew’s efforts will include experimentation on burning items in microgravity, “tissue chip research on heart, brain, and cartilage functions,” and investigation of microbes outside the station.

“Commercial Crew Program missions like Crew-6 are essential so we can continue to maximize the important research possible only in the space station’s unique microgravity environment,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington, per the press release.

The new crew members will cohabitate with the current Crew-5 members for a few days before the Crew-5 team is sent back down to Earth.

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