top of page

NASA: Crew-6 lifts off for six-month mission

Two Americans, a Russian and a Emirati head to the ISS

NASA's SpaceX Crew-6 taking off from Cape Canaveral (Ben Cooper)

Falcon 9 v.12 FT Block 5 Carrier Rocket #B1078.1 with Crew Dragon C206 Endeavor “Crew-6” manned spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS) launched today, March 2 at 12:34 pm EST (05:34:14 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The spacecraft separated from the second stage at 05:46 UTC in an initial orbit of 200 km, inclined at 51.6 degrees. NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen, commander, and Warren Hoburg, pilot, along with UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev (as mission specialists) travel to the space station for a six-month science mission.

Moments after the spacecraft entered orbit, a SpaceX mission control manager was heard over the radio joking with the crew: "If you enjoyed the ride, please don't forget to give us five stars." Commander Bowen radioed back: "We'd like to thank you for the great orbital trip today."

NASA's SpaceX Crew-6 taking off from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral

The 12.5-ton spacecraft is expected to dock with the Harmony module's zenith door tomorrow, March 3, at around 06:17 UTC. Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitry Petelin and Anna Kikina, NASA astronauts Franco Rubio, Nicole Mann and Josh Kassada and JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata await the new crew on the station. The launch was the 366th manned space flight and the 200th flight for a space station.

Bowen now in space for 4th time; Hoburg, Al-Neyadi and Fedyaev, on their first flights, become space travelers number 642, 643 and 644.

Moment of Crew Dragon's separation from the second stage

The flight came 72 hours after an initial launch attempt was scrapped in the final minutes of the countdown on Monday morning (February 27) due to a blockage in the engine's ignition fluid flow. NASA said the problem was fixed by replacing a clogged filter and purging the system. According to Benjamin Reed, Senior Director of Human Spaceflight Programs at SpaceX, “…on Sunday night, one signature seemed odd: how much TEA-TEB triethyl aluminum triethyl borane fluid was returning to the [ground system] header tank. . It wasn't registering, via telemetry, the amount we expected. I started seeing this about an hour before, and I wanted to understand it better during the last [countdown] hour. At the end of the day we couldn't be sure we had enough TEA-TEB so we postponed it. We replaced a clogged filter, not getting enough fluid into the sump tank. We probably could have launched [the rocket], but we wanted to be sure.” SpaceX crews replaced the filter, purged the TEA-TEB line with nitrogen, and successfully verified the system's readiness.

Astronauts in the cockpit shortly after entering orbit

The teams withdrew from the initial attempt on February 27 due to this defect in bleeding the fluid supplied by TEA-TEB's ground support system. This TEA-TEB, packed in nitrogen-pressurized ampoules, is the ignition system fluid (T-bar subsystem, “T-bar”) used to start the nine Merlin 1D Plus enginesof first stage kerosene/liquid oxygen. The bleeding process ensures that there is an adequate supply of this fluid in each engine to mix with liquid oxygen and start the engines. During prelaunch, TEA-TEB fluid – which is loaded from a supply tank on the ground – flows to the rocket interface and back to a header tank to remove gas from the manifold. During engine starting, fluid flows to the engines for ignition. Flow in the header tank is one of several parameters used to determine if fluid has properly bled into the system.

After separation, the B1078 first stage core landed on the Just Read the Instructions drone raft , parked alongside the support vessel Bob 550 km off the coast of Florida. Launch activities and more information can be followed on NASA's website, .

Problem with the hook

Also reported was an issue with the hook on the spacecraft's nose cowling, which opens once the craft enters orbit. The same hooks that are used on the NDS docking system for docking with the space station are used to lock the canopy. “Only six hooks are used to hold the nose cone. Twelve hooks need to be used to dock on the ISS, and the same hooks are used for both purposes. There are three switches per hook, and one of the 36 switches was not indicating correct operation, not matching what other switches were registering. All hooks were driven by redundant motor windings and worked flawlessly. “We are confident it was just a problem with a switch. We can ignore the data on that,” Reed said.

After an analysis of the data and the ground system, NASA and SpaceX determined that there was reduced flow back to the capture tank due to the clogged ground filter. This filter explained the observed signature. SpaceX crews replaced this filter, purged the TEA-TEB line with nitrogen, and successfully verified the system's readiness.

New launch campaign Infographics

Crew-6 Preparation

Continuous rotation of crews on the ISS

On February 26, the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft, which was supposed to return cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev, Dmitry Petelin and astronaut Frank Rubio to Earth instead of the damaged Soyuz MS-22, docked with the MIM-2 Poisk research module of the segment Russian from the ISS. Soyuz MS-23 is due to land on September 27th. On July 15 last year, Roscosmos announced the signing of an agreement on joint cross-flights of Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts to the ISS, which implies three flights of Russians on American spacecraft.

The flight is the sixth crew rotation mission and the seventh by a Crew Dragon with crew as part of the commercial program. Bowen and Hoburg were assigned in December 2021 and began training on the spacecraft and space station systems. Fedyaev and AlNeyadi were added as the third and fourth members in July 2022. As part of the refurbishment process on the spacecraft, crews installed new components, including the heat shield, nose canopy, cylindrical trunk struts and radiator (trunk). , the forward bulkheads and service section Draco engines.

The USCV-6 “Crew-6” mission

This will be the fourth trip for Bowen, a veteran of three shuttle missions: STS-126 in 2008, STS-132 in 2010 and STS-133 in 2011. Bowen has logged more than forty days in space, including 47 hours, 18 minutes during seven spacewalks. As mission commander, he will be responsible for all phases of the flight, from launch to re-entry, and will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 69 aboard the station. Bowen was born in Cohasset, Massachusetts. He holds a BS in electrical engineering from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and an MS in ocean engineering from the Joint Program in Applied Ocean Science and Engineering offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, Massachusetts. In July 2000,

The mission will be Hoburg's first flight since his selection as an astronaut in 2017. As a pilot, he will be responsible for the spacecraft's systems and performance. Aboard the station, he will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 69. Hoburg is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT and a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. At the time of his selection as an astronaut, Hoburg was an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. Hoburg's research focused on efficient methods for designing engineering systems. He is also a commercial pilot with instrument ratings in both single-engine and multi-engine aircraft.

Al Neyadi will make his first trip to space, representing the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates. He was one of two selected from 4,022 applicants to become the Emirati's first astronauts, after a series of physical and mental tests at home and in Russia. He went through the Emirates Astronaut Program at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center. In September 2018, Prime Minister of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced that the first Emirati astronauts on the International Space Station were Hazza Al Mansouri and Al Neyadi. It was later announced that Al Mansouri would fly the first mission, with Al Neyadi as a backup. Al Mansouri launched on Soyuz MS-15 in September 2019 for an eight-day flight to the ISS before returning to Earth on October 3.

Sultan Al Neyadi was born in Um Ghafa, a remote area outside of Al Ain. He lived his childhood in his grandfather's house, and studied at Boys Primary School at Um Ghafa Secondary School. His father served in the UAE Armed Forces.

He will be the first Emirati astronaut to fly on a commercial American spacecraft. MBRSC's participation in this mission is a byproduct of a 2021 agreement between NASA and Axiom to fly an American astronaut, Mark T. Vande Hei, aboard Soyuz MS-18 (launch) and Soyuz MS-19 (return). , in order to ensure a continued American presence aboard the ISS. In return, Axiom received the rights to a NASA-owned seat aboard Crew-6. Axiom offered the professional MBRSC crew member the opportunity to fly through an agreement with the UAE Space Agency. Later, the astronaut was confirmed as Sultan Al Neyadi.

Fedyaev will also make his first trip and will also serve as a mission specialist, working to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of the flight. He will be a flight engineer for Expedition 69. Fedyaev was selected in July 2022 for this mission as part of the Soyuz-Dragon crew exchange system of keeping at least one American astronaut and one Roscosmos cosmonaut on each of the crew rotation missions . This ensures that both countries have a presence on the station and the ability to keep their systems separate if the Soyuz or commercial crew vehicles are down for an extended period. Konstantin Borisov is his replacement.

Once in orbit, the SpaceX crew and Mission Control in Hawthorne, California., will monitor a series of automatic maneuvers that will guide Endeavor to the Harmony module docking port. After several maneuvers to increase its orbit, Endeavor will be in a position to rendezvous with the ISS. The spacecraft is designed to dock autonomously, but the crew can take over if necessary. Once docked, Crew-6 will be received by the Expedition 69 crew.

Astronauts from the US portion of the current mission, Crew-5, will undock their capsule from the station and land off the coast of Florida several days after Crew-6 arrives.

Crew-6 will conduct "scientific research to prepare for manned exploration beyond low orbit and benefit life on Earth", as the American space agency likes to proclaim. Experiments will include studies of how specific materials ignite in microgravity, tissue chip research into heart, brain and cartilage functions, and an experiment that will collect microbial samples from outside the space station. There are more than 200 scientific experiments and technological demonstrations. During its time on board, Crew-6 will see the arrival of cargo spacecraft, including SpaceX's Cargo Dragon and Russian Progress. Crew-6 is also expected to host Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts with Starliner and commercial crew from Axiom Mission-2 (on another Crew Dragon) during its expedition.

At the conclusion of the mission, Dragon Endeavor will automatically undock with all four crew on board, depart the station and re-enter Earth's atmosphere. After landing off the coast of Florida, a SpaceX recovery vessel will pick up the crew, who will be airlifted to shore by helicopter.

The mission emblem is explained as follows: The Dragon spacecraft represents both the destination, the International Space Station, and the ships that “countless explorers have led into the unknown” , in the politically correct words of the public relations team of the American space agency. The station is at the dawn of missions to the Moon and Mars. The ship's sail, a symbol of NASA's astronaut class of 2012, has curved silhouettes corresponding to Earth, Moon and Mars. The constellation Draco represents NASA's Commercial Crew Program and shares its name with the spacecraft's orbital tuning engines. The dragon bow sculpture "looks to the future as we look to Earth, grateful for the tireless hours of all who support the mission".

Launch Timeline

All approximate times hh min ss event

00:45:00 Launch director checks propellant supply 00:42:00 Crew access arm retracts 00:37:00 Launch escape system armed 00:35:00 RP-1 kerosene supply started 00 :35:00 LOX (liquid oxygen) supply started 00:16:00 2nd stage LOX supply started 00:07:00 Rocket starts to cool down engine before launch 00:05:00 Spacecraft Dragon passes to internal power 00:01:00 Computer command for final prelaunch checks 00:01:00 Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins 00:00:45 Launch director checks readiness for liftoff 00:00:03 Engine controller commands ignition sequence for takeoff 00:00:00 Takeoff

All approximate times hh min ss event

00:01:02 Max Q (maximum moment of stress on the rocket) 00:02:34 1st stage main engine cut (MECO) 00:02:38 Separate 1st and 2nd stages 00:02:45 2nd engine ignition stage 00:07:22 1st stage re-entry ignition 00:08:47 2nd stage engine cut (SECO-1) 00:08:59 1st stage landing burn 00:09:26 1st stage landing 00: 11:57 Spacecraft separates from 2nd stage 00:12:45 Dragon nose opening sequence begins


bottom of page