At about 12:34 a.m. ET Thursday, SpaceX and NASA finally launched a fresh crew of astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station, kicking off a roughly six-month stay in space. Today’s launch marked the second attempt to get this mission, called Crew-6, off the ground. As we reported on Monday, the first launch attempt was cancelled due to a system issue.
The mission carried two NASA astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates — took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Crew-6’s multicultural crew is the product of a crew swap arrangement between NASA and Roscosmos of Russia and a contract with Houston-based Axiom Space, which collaborated with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center of the United Arab Emirates to fill a seat.
They’re expected to spend up to six months on board the orbiting laboratory, carrying out science experiments and maintaining the two-decade-old station.
The crew are expected to spend up to six months and will carry out more than 200 scientific investigations and technological tests during their stay in the orbiting laboratory, covering everything from sophisticated materials to life and physical sciences to applications for in-space manufacturing and even student-led research.
Demo-2, Crew-2, and Axiom Space’s Ax-1 were previously transported to and from the space station by the Dragon spacecraft, which is now carrying out this mission. After stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will touch down on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship, which is positioned in the Atlantic Ocean.
Since 2020, SpaceX has flown seven astronauts on behalf of NASA; this mission continues the public-private initiative to maintain a fully staffed orbital laboratory.
Together with Sultan Alneyadi, the second astronaut from the United Arab Emirates to visit space, and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, the crew of Crew-6 consists of NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, and Warren Woody Hoburg, a first-time flier.
To replace the SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts that landed at the space station in October 2022, Bowen, Hoburg, Fedyaev, and Alneyadi will strive to take over operations once they are on board the space station.