Crew members assigned to NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission are in orbit following their successful launch to the International Space Station at 12:34 a.m. EST Thursday from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The international crew are the agency’s sixth commercial crew rotation mission with SpaceX aboard the orbital laboratory.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, into orbit carrying NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, along with United Arab Emirates (UAE) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, for a science expedition aboard the space station.
During Dragon’s flight, SpaceX will monitor a series of automatic spacecraft maneuvers from its mission control center in Hawthorne, California, and NASA teams will monitor space station operations throughout the flight from the Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Dragon will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module around 1:17 a.m., Friday, March 3. NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of docking and hatch opening. NASA TV also will cover the ceremony to welcome the crew aboard the orbital outpost about 3:40 a.m.
Once aboard station, Crew-6 will join the Expedition 68, consisting of NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann, and Josh Cassada, as well as JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, and Anna Kikina. For a short time, the 11 crew members will live and work in space together until Crew-5 members Mann, Cassada, Wakata, and Kikina return to Earth a few days later.
Conducting new scientific research, Crew-6 will help prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth. Experiments will include studies of how particular materials burn in microgravity, tissue chip research on heart, brain, and cartilage functions, and an investigation that will collect microbial samples from the outside of the space station. These are just some of the hundreds of science experiments and technology demonstrations that will take place during their mission.
“For more than two decades, humans have continuously lived and worked aboard the International Space Station,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. “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. Congratulations to the NASA and SpaceX teams on a successful launch! I am looking forward to seeing the crew safely aboard the station.”
The Crew-6 mission enables NASA to maximize use of the space station, where astronauts have lived and worked continuously for more than 22 years testing technologies, performing science, and developing the skills needed to operate future commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit and explore farther from Earth. Research conducted on the space station provides benefits for people on Earth and paves the way for future long-duration trips to the Moon and beyond through NASA’s Artemis missions.