SpaceX introduces international astronauts to the space station mission

(CNN) SpaceX and NASA sent a new crew of astronauts to the International Space Station, which stayed in space for about six months.

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

Crew Dragon, the astronaut-carrying vehicle, separated from the rocket after reaching orbit and is expected to spend a day maneuvering in space before rejoining the space station. The capsule will be sent to the dock at 1:17 a.m. on Friday.

Thursday’s launch marked the second attempt to get the mission, known as Crew-6, off the ground. The First launch attempt It was grounded Monday by what officials said was a clogged filter.

when In the launch broadcast, ground systems engineers decided to abort the launch with three minutes left on the clock, officials said. The engineers said they found the problem with a substance called triethylaluminum triethylboron, or TEA-TEB.

The problem occurred during a “bleed-in” process to ensure that each of the Falcon 9 rocket’s nine engines were supplied with an adequate amount of TEA-TEB fluid during ignition. According to NASA, the problem arose because fluid moved from a tank on the ground to a “catch tank.”

“After a thorough review of the data and the ground system, NASA and SpaceX determined that there was again limited flow to the TEA-TEB catch tank on the ground due to a clogged ground filter,” NASA’s update said. Website Early Wednesday.

A clogged filter explained the unusual data engineers saw on launch day, NASA said.

Benji Reid, SpaceX’s director of crew mission management, said in a review of the data that the rocket could have taken off without a hitch, even though flight controllers did not have enough data during the countdown.

“That’s not how we want to start people out,” Reid said during a post-release news conference Thursday. “We want people to know for sure that it’s going to be okay.”

The TEA-TEB system performed well Thursday, officials said, with at least one malfunction that had to be fixed after engineers took off.

The problem occurred with a sensor on one of the six hooks used to hold the nose cone of the Crew Dragon, a cap on the top of the shuttle that protects the ISS docking hardware during launch. But Crew Dragon was able to open the nose cone using a back-up system.

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The hook is used to secure the vehicle to its docking port when the spacecraft docks with the ISS. But having additional sensors to provide data shouldn’t cause a sensor problem, Reed said.

Crew-6 astronauts waited aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Tuesday during the launch countdown, which was ultimately halted by ground system problems.

About this launch

The mission marks SpaceX’s seventh astronaut flight on behalf of NASA since 2020, continuing a public-private effort to keep the orbiting laboratory afloat. Fully staffed.

The Crew-6 crew aboard includes NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen, veteran of three space shuttles and first-timer Warren “Woody” Hoberg, and Sultan Alnyadi, the second astronaut from the United Arab Emirates. , and Russian cosmonaut Andrei Fedayev.

Once Bowen, Hoburg, Fedyaev and Alneyadi board the space station, they will take over operations from the SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts who arrived at the space station. October 2022.

They will spend up to six months in the orbiting lab, conducting science experiments and maintaining the two-decade-old station.

The mission comes as astronauts currently aboard the space station face a unique transportation problem. In December, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft used to transport cosmonauts Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitry Betlin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio to the space station suffered a coolant leak. After the capsule was deemed unsafe for returning astronauts, Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, It launched a replacement vehicle on February 23. It arrived at the space station on Saturday.

What will they do in space?

During their stay in space, Crew-6 astronauts will oversee more than 200 science and technology projects, including exploring and studying how certain materials burn in microgravity environments. Microbial samples It will be collected from outside the space station.

During their stay, the crew will perform two main tasks that anchor the space station. The first is a Boeing crewed flight test, marking the first spaceflight under the Boeing-NASA partnership. Scheduled for April, the flight will carry NASA astronauts Barry Willmore and Sunita Williams to the space station, marking the last phase of a test and demonstration program that Boeing must undertake to certify its Starliner spacecraft for regular space missions.

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Then, in May, a team of four astronauts launched Axiom Mission 2, or AX-2 for short — a privately funded mission to the space station. That effort, which will use the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule separately, will be commanded by Becky Whitson, a former NASA astronaut who is now a private astronaut with the Texas-based space company Axiom.

This includes three paying customers, such as Axiom Mission 1, which visited the space station in April 2022, including the first astronauts to visit the orbiting observatory from Saudi Arabia. Their seats were paid for Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Working with the Russians

Russian cosmonaut Fedyaev joined Crew-6 as part of the crew Ride-sharing agreement May 2022 between NASA and Roscosmos. The agreement aims to ensure continued access to the space station for both Roscosmos and NASA: if a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule or a Russian Soyuz spacecraft runs out of service, its counterpart can handle receiving astronauts. Both countries in orbit.

The flight marked Fedyaev’s first trip to space.

Despite geopolitical tensions fueled by the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia remains America’s primary partner on the space station. NASA officials have repeatedly said the conflict had no impact on cooperation between the nations’ space agencies.

“Space cooperation has a very long history, and we are an example of how people should live on Earth,” Fedayev said during a Jan. 24 news conference.

Bowen, a 59-year-old NASA astronaut who serves as the Crew-6 mission commander, also weighed in.

SpaceX Crew-6 astronauts pause for a photo after arriving at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 21: (from left) Roscosmos astronaut Andrey Fedayev, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alnyadi and NASA astronauts Warren and Stefan Bowerk Hohnberg.

“I’ve been working with astronauts for over 20 years now, and it’s always amazing,” he said during the briefing. “Once you go into space, it’s one crew, 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 United States Naval Academy in 1986 and a master’s degree in marine engineering from a joint program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

He completed military submarine training and served in the U.S. Navy before being selected for the NASA astronaut crew in 2000, becoming the first submarine officer selected by the space agency.

He had previously completed three missions during NASA’s space shuttle program between 2008 and 2011, logging a total of more than 47 days in space.

“I hope my body retains the memory of 12 years ago,” Bowen said of the Crew-6 launch.

Meet the rest of the Crew-6 team

Hoberg, who serves as the pilot for the mission, is a Pittsburgh native who earned a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, before becoming an assistant professor of aeronautics and aerospace at MIT. He joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2017.

“We’re going to live in space for six months. I think six months ago — well, that’s a long time,” Hoberg told reporters about expectations for the trip.

But, Hoberg added, “I’m looking forward to seeing the cupola first,” referring to a well-known area on the space station that features a large window offering panoramic views of Earth.

Alneyadi, who in 2019 served as a backup to the first UAE astronaut Hazza Ali Almansouri, is set to become the first UAE astronaut to spend the longest time in space.

At a January news conference, Alneyadi said he plans to bring Middle Eastern food to share with his crew while in space. A trained jiujitsu practitioner will also include a kimono, the traditional uniform of the martial art.

“It’s hard to believe this is actually happening,” Alneyadi said News conference After arriving at the Kennedy Space Center on February 21. “I couldn’t ask for a more team. I think we’re ready — physically, mentally and technically.”

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