By Joe Skipper and Steve Gorman
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – Elon Musk’s rocket firm SpaceX was set to launch early on Monday the International Space Station’s next long-duration staff into orbit, with an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates and a Russian cosmonaut becoming a member of two NASA crewmates for the flight.
The SpaceX launch car, consisting of a Falcon 9 rocket topped with an autonomously operated Crew Dragon capsule known as Endeavour, was set for liftoff at 1:45 a.m. EST (0645 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Heart in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The four-member crew ought to attain the International Space Station (ISS) about 25 hours later, on Tuesday morning, to start a six-month mission in microgravity aboard the orbiting laboratory some 250 miles (420 km) above Earth.
Designated Crew 6, the mission marks the sixth long-term ISS staff that NASA has flown aboard SpaceX because the non-public rocket enterprise based by Musk – billionaire CEO of electrical automotive maker Tesla and social media platform Twitter – started sending American astronauts to orbit in Could 2020.
NASA stated the mission’s launch readiness evaluate was accomplished on Saturday, and that the flight was given a “go” to proceed to liftoff as deliberate.
“All methods and climate are trying good for launch,” Musk wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
The newest ISS crew is led by mission commander Stephen Bowen, 59, a onetime U.S. Navy submarine officer who has logged greater than 40 days in orbit as a veteran of three house shuttle flights and 7 spacewalks.
Fellow NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 37, an engineer and business aviator designated because the Crew 6 pilot, will probably be making his first spaceflight.
The Crew 6 mission is also notable for its inclusion of UAE astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, 41, solely the second individual from his nation to fly to house and the primary to launch from U.S. soil as a part of a long-duration house station staff. 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 staff.
Fedyaev is the newest cosmonaut to fly aboard an American spacecraft below a ride-sharing deal signed in July by NASA and the Russian house company Roscosmos, regardless of heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Crew 6 staff will probably be welcomed aboard the house 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 house, together with three Russians and a Japanese astronaut.
The ISS, concerning the size of a soccer subject and the biggest synthetic object in house, has been repeatedly operated by a U.S.-Russian-led consortium that features Canada, Japan and 11 European nations.
The outpost was conceived partially as a enterprise to enhance relations between Washington and Moscow following the Soviet Union’s collapse and the top of Chilly Battle rivalries that gave rise to the unique U.S.-Soviet house race within the Nineteen Fifties and Nineteen Sixties.
NASA-Roscosmos cooperation has been examined as by no means earlier than since Russia invaded Ukraine a 12 months in the past, main the USA to impose sweeping sanctions in opposition to Moscow whereas steadily growing army assist to the Ukrainian authorities.
The Crew 6 mission additionally follows two current mishaps wherein Russian spacecraft docked to the orbiting laboratory sprang coolant leaks apparently triggered micrometeoroids, tiny grains of house rock, streaking by means of house and putting the craft at excessive velocity.
One of many affected Russian automobiles was a Soyuz crew capsule that had carried two cosmonauts and an astronaut to the house station in September for a six-month mission now set to finish in March. An empty substitute Soyuz to convey them house blasted off on Friday and arrived on the house station on Saturday.
(Reporting by Joe Skipper in Cape Canaveral and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Modifying by Will Dunham)