Home » NASA, SpaceX set to launch next quartet to space station in overnight launch from KSC

NASA, SpaceX set to launch next quartet to space station in overnight launch from KSC

by Dubaiforum

The first four humans to fly into space in 2023 are set to blast off from Kennedy Space Center in the wee hours of Monday morning for a six-month stay on the International Space Station.

The quartet make up the SpaceX Crew-6 mission as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program strapping into the Crew Dragon Endeavour making its record-setting fourth flight to the ISS. Sitting atop a Falcon 9 rocket, liftoff is slated for 1:45 a.m. Monday from KSC’s Launch Pad 39-A.

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The Space Launch Delta 45 weather squadron predicts a 95% chance for good weather conditions.

The booster for this mission is making its first flight and will attempt to land on the SpaceX droneship Just Read the Instructions in the Atlantic Ocean.

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NASA astronaut and mission commander Stephen Bowen is making his fourth flight, but the first trip for a long-term stay on board the station. He’s joined by three rookies: NASA astronaut and pilot Woody Hoburg, mission specialist and United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi, and mission specialist and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.

They arrived to KSC on Tuesday morning to prep for liftoff one week out.

“I think there’s more of you here today than there was the last few shuttle launches I was on so it’s incredible to see the excitement growing and to still be a part of all of this,” Bowen said.

They will join the seven crew already orbiting on station and become part of Expeditions 68 and 69 as part of the continuous presence since November 2000.

Hoburg, a member of the 12-person 2017 astronaut class known as The Turtles will become the sixth from that class to fly to space.

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“We weren’t launching from Florida when I showed up at NASA,” he said. “And now here we are on a beautiful day arriving in Florida. We just flew over our pad. And it’s just such an exciting special moment.”

Crew Dragon Endeavour was the first SpaceX capsule to take astronauts to space flying the Demo-2 mission in May 2020 and returning humans spaceflight from the U.S. for the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011. Endeavour has since flown Crew-2 and the first private astronaut mission to the ISS for Axiom Space.

“They’ll have a really busy increment supporting numerous vehicles that will come and go and they’ll have more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations that they’ll be supporting,” said Dana Weigel, NASA’s deputy manager for the ISS program during the flight readiness review this week. “They’ve got a wide range of research objectives, including investigations aimed at furthering capabilities that we will need for going beyond low-Earth orbit.”

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Other science on tap will be studying how things burn in microgravity as well as tissue chip research on heart, brain and cartilage functions, she said.

This will mark SpaceX’s sixth operational crew flight to the station and ninth overall with three more on tap in 2023. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, which has taken longer to get to its first crewed test flight, is set to fly up to the station during Crew-6′s stay with a potential launch in mid- to late-April bringing up two NASA astronauts for a short stay. The Crew-6 stay is also expecting a 10-day visit as early as May from Axiom Space’s second private mission to the station plus two resupply missions in the coming months. Their mission is expected to last into September when Crew-7 should arrive.

“So a very, very busy time around the corner for us,” Weigel said.

Follow Orlando Sentinel space coverage at Facebook.com/goforlaunchsentinel.

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