NASA, SpaceX postpone launch of next space station crew at 11th hour

NASA, SpaceX postpone launch of next space station crew at 11th hour
NASA, SpaceX postpone launch of next space station crew at 11th hour

By Joe Skipper and Steve Gorman

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) -NASA and SpaceX early on Monday postponed the launch of a capsule containing two U.S. astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and a United Arab Emirates crewmate minutes earlier than scheduled lift-off from Florida on a flight to the Worldwide Space Station.

The U.S. space company and SpaceX, the non-public rocket firm based by billionaire Elon Musk, cited a technical glitch in regards to the ignition fluid used to start out the spacecraft’s engines.

The countdown had appeared to be progressing easily till about two and a half minutes earlier than blastoff, when NASA introduced on its dwell webcast that the launch of the 4 crew members on a six-month science mission can be postponed.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule had been scheduled for liftoff at 1:45 a.m. EST (0645 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Heart in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The primary backup launch alternative for the mission was set for early Tuesday, about 24 hours from the preliminary try to get the rocket off the bottom.

Neither NASA nor SpaceX instantly mentioned how lengthy it would really take earlier than they’d be able to attempt once more. Eleventh-hour launch scrubs are pretty routine within the extremely complicated and dangerous endeavor of human spaceflight.

Had Monday’s launch been a hit, it was anticipated to take the crew about 25 hours to succeed in their vacation spot at the Worldwide Space Station (ISS), a laboratory orbiting about 250 miles (420 km) above Earth.

Designated Crew 6, the mission will carry the sixth long-duration ISS crew that NASA has flown aboard SpaceX since Musk’s California-based firm started sending American astronauts to orbit in Could 2020.

The most recent ISS crew is led by mission commander Stephen Bowen, 59, a one-time U.S. Navy submarine officer who has logged greater than 40 days in orbit as a veteran of three space shuttle flights and 7 spacewalks.

Fellow NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 37, an engineer and industrial aviator designated because the Crew 6 pilot, might be making his first spaceflight.

The Crew 6 mission is also notable for its inclusion of UAE astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, 41, solely the second particular person from his nation to fly to space and the primary to launch from U.S. soil as half of a long-duration space station crew. UAE’s first-ever astronaut launched to orbit in 2019 aboard a Russian spacecraft.

Rounding out the four-man Crew 6 is Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, 41, who like Alneyadi is an engineer and spaceflight rookie designated as a mission specialist for the crew.

Fedyaev is the most recent cosmonaut to fly aboard an American spacecraft beneath a ride-sharing deal signed in July by NASA and the Russian space company Roscosmos, regardless of heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Crew 6 crew might be welcomed aboard the space station by seven present ISS occupants – three U.S. NASA crew members, together with commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, the primary Native American girl to fly to space, together with three Russians and a Japanese astronaut.

The ISS, in regards to the size of a soccer discipline and the most important human-made object in space, has been constantly operated by a U.S.-Russian-led consortium that features Canada, Japan and 11 European nations.

(Reporting by Joe Skipper in Cape Canaveral and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Enhancing by Will Dunham, John Stonestreet, Gerry Doyle and Nick Macfie)

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