NASA and SpaceX Move Forward With Crew-6 Launch to International Space Station

NASA SpaceX Crew-6 Falcon 9 Sunset

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Dragon spacecraft on top is seen at sunset on Saturday, February 25, 2023, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket sits ready on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-6 mission. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission is the sixth crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev are scheduled to launch at 12:34 a.m. EST on Thursday, March 2, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission is ‘Go’ for launch to the International Space Station (ISS) following the completion of a launch readiness review, weather briefing, and mission management meeting today (February 28). Launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is now targeted at 12:34 a.m. EST on Thursday, March 2.

Mission teams stood down from a February 27 launch attempt to review an unusual data signature related to confirming a proper bleed in of pad supplied fluid known as triethylaluminum triethylboron (TEA-TEB). TEA-TEB is an ignition fluid used to start the Falcon 9’s nine first stage kerosene/liquid oxygen Merlin engines. The bleed-in process ensures there is an adequate supply of this fluid at each engine to mix with liquid oxygen to start the engines. During prelaunch, the TEA-TEB fluid – which originates in a ground supply tank – flows to the rocket’s interface and back to a catch tank to remove gas from the ground plumbing. During engine start, the fluid then flows to the engines for ignition. Flow into the catch tank is one of several parameters used to determine that the fluid has been properly bled into the system.

After a thorough review of the data and ground system, NASA and SpaceX determined there was a reduced flow back to the ground TEA-TEB catch tank due to a clogged ground filter. This clogged filter fully-explained the signature observed on the launch attempt. SpaceX teams replaced the filter, purged the TEA-TEB line with nitrogen, and verified the lines are clean and ready for launch.

NASA SpaceX Crew-6 Live Launch Coverage

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 astronauts walk out of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 26, 2023. In front, from left are NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, pilot; and NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen, spacecraft commander. Behind them, from left are Andrei Fedyaev, Roscosmos cosmonaut and mission specialist; and Sultan Alneyadi, UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut and mission specialist. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron continue to predict a 95% chance of favorable weather conditions for Crew-6 launch, with the flight through precipitation rule serving as the primary weather concern. Conditions along the Dragon ascent corridor are within acceptable limits, but will remain a watch item for Thursday’s attempt.

NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen, mission commander, and Warren Hoburg, pilot, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, who join as mission specialists, will travel to the space station for a science expedition mission. The international crew will fly aboard the Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour, which previously flew NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2, and Axiom Mission 1 astronauts.

After an approximate 24.5-hour transit, the crew will dock to the space-facing port of the microgravity laboratory’s Harmony module at about 1:17 a.m. on Friday, March 3. Hatch opening is targeted for approximately 3:27 a.m., followed by the welcome ceremony at about 3:40 a.m. Arrival coverage on NASA TV and the agency’s website begins on Thursday, March 2, at 11:30 p.m.

Starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, tune in to a Crew-6 live launch broadcast on NASA TV or the agency’s website and follow along through countdown and other key mission milestones.

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