SpaceX Crew-6 Mission In Orbit En Route To International Space Station

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NASA's SpaceX Crew-6 mission was successfully launched at 12:34 a.m. EST Thursday from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The four-member crew is in orbit en route the International Space Station, NASA said in an update.

The international crew are the U.S. space agency's sixth commercial crew rotation mission with SpaceX aboard the orbital laboratory.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, into orbit carrying American astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, along with United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, for a science expedition aboard the space station.

"Congratulations to the NASA and SpaceX teams for another history-making mission to the International Space Station! The Commercial Crew Program is proof American ingenuity and leadership in space benefits all of humanity - through groundbreaking science, innovative technology, and newfound partnership," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "Crew-6 will be busy aboard the International Space Station, conducting over 200 experiments that will help us to prepare for missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, as well as improve life here on Earth. We look forward to seeing all that they accomplish," he added.

During Dragon's flight, SpaceX will monitor a series of automatic spacecraft maneuvers from its mission control center in Hawthorne, California, and NASA teams will monitor space station operations throughout the flight from the Mission Control Center at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Dragon will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station's Harmony module around 1:17 a.m., Friday, according to NASA. NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency's website will provide live coverage of docking and hatch opening. NASA TV also will cover the ceremony to welcome the crew aboard the orbital outpost at about 3:40 a.m.

Once they reach the station, Crew-6 will join the Expedition 68, consisting of NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann, and Josh Cassada, as well as JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, and Anna Kikina. For a short time, the 11 crew members will live and work in space together until Crew-5 members Mann, Cassada, Wakata, and Kikina return to Earth a few days later.

Conducting new scientific research, Crew-6 will help prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth. Experiments will include studies of how particular materials burn in microgravity, tissue chip research on heart, brain, and cartilage functions, and an investigation that will collect microbial samples from the outside of the space station. These are just some of the hundreds of science experiments and technology?demonstrations that will take place during their mission.

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