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Space. The eventual frontier. This is the delayed journey of Crew-6 astronauts en route to the ISS

SpaceX overcomes ground systems issue that halted previous launch attempt

SpaceX successfully launched four astronauts from the US, Russia, and United Arab Emirates on Thursday, on a mission to the International Space Station.

The team, dubbed Crew-6, is made up of NASA commander Stephen Bowen, pilot Warren Hoburg, and mission specialists UAE astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev. NASA confirmed Crew-6 has reached orbit and Endeavor's nose cone is open. The capsule is expected to dock with the ISS on Friday at 0117 ET (0617 UTC). 

The flight was originally scheduled to launch on February 27, but was scrubbed due to a ground systems issue. Crew-6 strapped themselves into SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, Endeavor, and finally blasted off aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on March 2 at 12:34 ET (05:34 UTC).

"Congratulations to the NASA and SpaceX teams for another history-making mission to the International Space Station," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson declared in a statement. "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."

The only member to have flown to space before is Bowen, who participated in three NASA space shuttle missions. Hoburg was selected as an astronaut in 2017. Fedyaev is a retired Russian Air Force Pilot.

Alneyadi is set to become the first UAE astronaut to stay in space for over a month, and to have flown on a commercial spacecraft.

The UAE Space Agency was created in 2014, and has steadily expanded its space program. It successfully launched the Mars Hope orbiter in 2020, and plans to send an uncrewed mission to the Moon in 2024. 

Crew-6 will join the Expedition 68 team, made up of NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann, and Josh Cassada, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Koichi Wakata. Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, and Anna Kikina will also be onboard. Four members from Crew-5: Mann, Cassada, Wakata, and Kikina are due to return to Earth in a few days.

Prokopyev, Petelin, and Rubio, however, will continue to stay onaboard for a while longer. The Soyuz spacecraft they arrived in leaked coolant in December, and a replacement shuttle was sent on February 24. But they're not expected to return home until September. ®

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