(CTN News) – The next long-duration crew for the International Space Station, consisting of an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates, a Russian cosmonaut, and two NASA astronauts, was scheduled to be launched into orbit by Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX early on Monday.
Launch was scheduled for 1:45 a.m. EST (0645 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, using a SpaceX launch vehicle consisting of a Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule dubbed Endeavour that would be operated independently.
About 25 hours later, on Tuesday morning, the crew of four is expected to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS), where they will embark on a six-month mission in microgravity aboard the orbiting laboratory located approximately 250 miles (420 km) above Earth.
SpaceX, the commercial rocket company created by Musk, the billionaire CEO of electric car maker Tesla (TSLA.O) and social media platform Twitter, began transporting American astronauts to space in May 2020.
This trip, designated Crew 6, will be the sixth long-term ISS team flown by NASA aboard SpaceX.
On Saturday, NASA stated the launch readiness assessment was completed, and the flight was given the green light to go forward with liftoff as scheduled.
As of Sunday, “all systems and weather are looking excellent for launch,” Musk tweeted.
Stephen Bowen, 59, a former U.S. Navy submarine officer and mission commander of the newest ISS crew, has spent over 40 days in orbit across three shuttle flights and seven spacewalks.
For his part, Warren “Woody” Hoburg, an engineer and commercial pilot, has been selected as the first-time astronaut to pilot the Crew 6 mission.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) sent Sultan Alneyadi, 41, to the International Space Station as part of the Crew 6 mission.
He is the first person from the UAE to travel to space and the first person from any Arab country to launch from American soil as part of a long-duration space station crew.
In 2019, a Russian spacecraft carried the United Arab Emirates first-ever astronaut into space.
Andrei Fedyaev, a Russian cosmonaut of the same age as Alneyadi, 41, is the fourth and final member of Crew 6. Fedyaev is an engineer and spaceflight novice like Alneyadi, and he is assigned as a mission specialist for the crew.
Despite heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos struck a ride-sharing agreement in July, making Fedyaev the latest cosmonaut to fly on an American spacecraft.
The seven people living on the International Space Station (including three Americans from NASA, including commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Native American woman to fly to space), three Russians, and a Japanese astronaut will be the first to welcome the Crew 6 crew when they arrive.
The International Space Station (ISS) has been continually run by a U.S.-Russian-led partnership that includes Canada, Japan, and 11 European countries. It is roughly the length of a football field.
The original Cold War conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s sparked the U.S.-Soviet space race. The outpost was partly planned to restore relations between Washington and Moscow after the Soviet Union’s fall.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, the United States has imposed severe sanctions on Moscow and progressively increased military help to the Ukrainian government, putting NASA and Roscosmos’ cooperation to the test like never before.
Two recent incidents involving Russian spacecraft attached to the orbiting laboratory involved coolant leaks thought to have been caused by micrometeoroids, tiny grains of space rock, racing through space and striking the vessel at high velocity.
A Soyuz capsule carrying two cosmonauts and an astronaut to the International Space Station in September for a six-month mission that was originally scheduled to expire in March was a damaged Russian vehicle.
On Saturday, the space station was greeted by an empty Soyuz launched on Friday to return the crew home.
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