SpaceX launched a crew of four astronauts to the International Space Station early on Thursday, marking the company’s sixth operational mission for NASA’s Commercial Crew program, after a technical issue meant an earlier launch was scrubbed.
SpaceX’s Falcon rocket launched the four astronauts onboard its reusable Dragon 2 spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center at around 12:30 a.m. E.T.
The Crew-6 mission carried two NASA astronauts, Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, Russian cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev and Emirati astronaut Sultan al-Neyadi.
Al-Neyadi is only the second person from the UAE to take part in a space mission and he is also the first Arab astronaut set for an extended stay onboard the ISS.
Thursday’s launch is the fourth spaceflight for the reusable Dragon 2 spacecraft known as Endeavour.
The four astronauts will take over from the members of the Crew-5 mission who are currently onboard the ISS and are set to fly back to Earth later this month.
Al-Neyadi will stay onboard the ISS for several months and said he may try to fast “on some days” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan if the schedule allows. The Emirati astronaut, however, noted all travelers like him are exempt from the obligation.
The crewed launch was originally scheduled to take place early on Monday but was called off just minutes before liftoff due to an issue with the Falcon 9 rocket’s ignition fluid. Aside from the four members of the Crew-5 mission, the ISS is also hosting two Russian cosmonauts and one American astronaut whose stay has been extended due to a fault in the Russian-made Soyuz capsule that was set to fly them back. A replacement Soyuz craft arrived at the space station late last week.
SpaceX launches Crew-6 astronaut mission to space station for NASA (Space)
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