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SpaceX launches Crew-6 astronaut team to International Space Station | News Fission

The four members of the SpaceX Dragon Crew-6 mission on 1 March 2023

CHANDAN KHANNA, AFP via Getty Images

Four astronauts launched towards the International Space Station (ISS) at 12:34 am EST this morning. The team, Crew-6, flew in the Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule manufactured and operated by Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX. The capsule sat atop a Falcon 9 rocket, also built by SpaceX. The crew will replace astronauts leaving the ISS.

Having reached orbit around Earth earlier today after lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the crew are due to reach the ISS in the early hours of tomorrow morning, EST, and will spend the next six months carrying out hundreds of science experiments and technology demonstrations.

One question the crew will explore is how factors such as airflow and radiation affect the flammability of materials in space. This could help improve the safety of future space missions. Other experiments will explore ways to monitor and improve immunity and heart health in space travellers.

The crew will also measure the extent to which microbes are released from the space station and how far they travel, which will inform measures to limit contamination during future space missions.

Commanding the crew is NASA’s Stephen Bowen, standing second from right in the photograph above. Bowen has visited the ISS three times before and is responsible for all phases of the flight from launch to re-entry.

On the far right is Sultan Al Neyadi, who becomes the first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates to fly on a commercial spacecraft. Al Neyadi trained at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in the UAE.

Also making his spaceflight debut is Warren Hoburg who stands second from left. Hoburg trained as a pilot and previously researched spacecraft engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They will be joined by fourth crew member Andrey Fedyaev, a Russian cosmonaut who will monitor the spacecraft during the launch and re-entry phases of the flight.

All four are wearing light, custom-made spacesuits – with a flame-resistant outer layer and touchscreen compatible gloves – that will protect them from potential depressurisation, where air pressure drops due to leaks from the spacecraft.

“A single connection point on the suit’s thigh attaches life support systems, including air and power connections,” said NASA and SpaceX. “The suit also routes communications and cooling systems to the astronauts during flight.”

Today’s successful launch comes after an earlier attempt was scrapped on 27 February due to an issue with a sensor linked to the rocket engines.

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