March 31, 2023

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NASA and SpaceX are delaying the next space station crew launch at the eleventh hour

CAPE CANAVAL, Fla., Feb. 27 (Reuters) – Early Monday, NASA and SpaceX delayed the launch of a capsule containing two American astronauts, a Russian astronaut and a fellow Emirates crew member minutes before the scheduled liftoff from Florida on a flight to the International Space Station. .

The US space agency and SpaceX, the private rocket company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, have indicated a technical defect related to the ignition fluid used to power the spacecraft’s engines.

The countdown seemed to progress smoothly until about two and a half minutes before liftoff, when NASA announced on its live webcast that the launch of the four crew members on a six-month science mission would be delayed.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket encased in a Crew Dragon capsule was scheduled to launch at 1:45 a.m. EDT (0645 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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The mission’s first backup launch opportunity was set for early Tuesday, about 24 hours after the rocket’s initial launch attempt from Earth.

Neither NASA nor SpaceX immediately said how long it might actually take before they were ready to try again. Eleventh hour launches are somewhat of a routine in the highly complex and risky endeavors of human spaceflight.

If Monday’s launch is successful, it should take the crew about 25 hours to reach their destination on the International Space Station (ISS), a laboratory orbiting about 250 miles (420 km) above Earth.

The mission, designated Crew 6, will carry the sixth team from the long-duration International Space Station that NASA has flown aboard SpaceX since Musk’s California-based company began sending American astronauts into orbit in May 2020.

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The newest crew from the International Space Station is led by Mission Commander Stephen Bowen, 59, a one-time US Navy submarine officer who has logged more than 40 days in orbit as a veteran of three space shuttle flights and seven spacewalks.

NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburgh, 37, an engineer and commercial pilot designated as Crew 6 pilot, will make his first spaceflight.

The Crew 6 mission also features Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, 41, who is only the second person from his country to travel to space and the first person to launch from US soil as part of a long-term space station team. The first ever Emirati astronaut was launched into orbit in 2019 aboard a Russian spacecraft.

Among the four Crew 6 members is Russian cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev, 41, who like Alleidy is an engineer and novice astronaut assigned as the team’s mission specialist.

Fedyaev is the latest astronaut to fly on a US spacecraft under a ride-sharing deal signed in July by NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos, despite rising tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Crew 6 will be welcomed aboard the space station by seven current ISS passengers — three NASA crew members, including Commander Nicole Onapu Mann, the first Native American woman to fly in space, along with three Russians. A Japanese astronaut.

The International Space Station, which is about the length of a football field and the largest man-made object in space, has been continuously operated by a US-Russian-led consortium that includes Canada, Japan and 11 European countries.

(Reporting by Joe Skipper in Cape Canaveral and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Will Dunham, John Stonestreet, Jerry Doyle and Nick McPhee

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