SpaceX launches crew of astronauts on space station mission
SpaceX and NASA on Thursday launched a crew of astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station, News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency.
SpaceX launched four astronauts for an extended monthslong stay. The Falcon 9 rocket was launched from Kennedy Space Center shortly after midnight.
The Crew-6 launch carried two NASA astronauts – Mission Commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Warren Hoburg – along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, who serves as mission specialists for a space station science expedition, according to NASA.
They are expected to spend some six months on board the orbiting laboratory, carrying out science experiments and maintaining the two-decade-old station.
This is the sixth crew rotation mission using the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the orbiting laboratory as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. This Dragon is named Endeavour.
The first attempt to launch them was called off Monday at the last minute because of a clogged filter in the engine ignition system.
"Thank God, we made it to space," Al Neyadi spoke from inside the Dragon capsule once it entered orbit, according to the Emirati National news website.
He became the fourth Arab astronaut who embarked on missions into space after Emirati Hazzaa Al Mansoori in 2019, Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan bin Salman in 1985 and Syrian astronaut Muhammed Faris in 1987.
"I would like to say thanks to everybody, my parents, my family, our leadership, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre for their trust, and everyone who trained us got us ready for this launch,” Al Neyadi said.
Born in 1981, Al Neyadi joined his country's armed forces and was sent to study communication engineering and IT.
He will celebrate and mark the fasting of the holy month of Ramadan in space which starts a few weeks later.
The UAE launched its astronaut program in 2017 to train and prepare a team of Emiratis to be sent on various scientific missions to space.