Ground equipment failure scrubs latest ISS SpaceX launch
Crew-6 will have to wait to go to space, and everyone in orbit will have to wait that much longer to come home
NASA and Space-X scrubbed this morning's launch of the Crew-6 mission to the ISS due to a ground systems issue that made it impossible to measure the Falcon 9 rocket's fuel levels.
Falcon 9 rockets use a fuel mixture known as TEA-TEB (made from triethylaluminum and triethylboron) that ignites in the presence of oxygen to further light-up the propellant used by Falcon's Merlin rockets. According to NASA, the ground systems for Monday's launch were unable to confirm the TEA-TEB igniter had a full load of fuel, and thus whether the thing would get airborne.
With less than two minutes left in the launch countdown, the space agency decided to stand down as a safety precaution, said NASA administrator Bill Nelson. "Human spaceflight is an inherently risky endeavor and, as always, we will fly when we are ready."
As of writing, the propellant has been removed from the Falcon 9 rocket, and the mission crew, NASA's Stephen Bowen and Warren "Woody" Hoburg, Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, and United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, have returned to quarters to await the next launch opportunity.
The first window, on February 28, is being skipped because of the likelihood of bad weather. March 2 is the date when the Crew-6 team will be hopefully catching a red eye flight lifting off at 0034 local time, "pending resolution of the technical issue preventing Monday's launch," NASA said.
Expedition 68 extended again
Expedition 68, the first members of which arrived on the ill-fated Soyuz MS-22 in September, 2022, is due - at least for now - to complete its mission in March.
Crew-6's delay will only push the duration back by a few days, and handoffs on the ISS typically take a few days as well, meaning the crew of SpaceX's Crew-5 will probably still return to Earth next month, unless those technical problems aren't resolved in time.
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If stuck, the four-person Crew-5 team will be in good company, as their crewmates who came aboard the leaky Soyuz are due to stay aboard the ISS and join Expedition, 69, until this September, when the Crew-6 team is also scheduled to return to Earth at the end of their planned rotation.
The Soyuz capsule that will serve as a return trip for the stranded MS-22 crew, MS-23, docked at the ISS over the weekend and will stay attached to the station for the next eight months - hopefully this one doesn't spring a leak like the other two up there right now. ®