Latest four-member SpaceX crew docks with International Space Station

March 3 (Reuters) – A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS) early Friday, carrying two US astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and a United Arab Emirates astronaut to begin a six-month science mission .

The autonomously flying spacecraft, dubbed Endeavor, docked with the space station just after 1:40 a.m. EST (0640 GMT) on Friday, almost 25 hours after liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The link was confirmed as the ISS and capsule flew in tandem at 17,500 miles per hour (28,164 km/h) about 240 km (150 miles) above Earth over the coast of East Africa, as per a live NASA webcast of the rendezvous emerges.

The four-person team was tasked with conducting more than 200 experiments and technology demonstrations aboard the space station, ranging from studying human cell growth in space to controlling combustible materials in microgravity.

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Some of the research will help pave the way for future long-term human expeditions to the moon and beyond under NASA’s Artemis program, its successor to Apollo, the US space agency said.

The ISS crew is also responsible for conducting maintenance and repairs aboard the station, as well as preparing for the arrival and departure of other astronauts and cargo payloads.

The mission, dubbed Crew 6, is the sixth long-term ISS team SpaceX has flown for NASA since the private rocket company founded by billionaire Elon Musk began sending American astronauts into orbit in May 2020. Musk is CEO of the electric car manufacturer Tesla (TSLA). .O) and the social media platform Twitter.

The newest crew was led by Stephen Bowen, 59, a former US Navy submarine officer who has spent more than 40 days in orbit as a veteran of three Space Shuttle flights and seven spacewalks. Fellow NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 37, an electrical engineer, computer science expert, and designated commercial aviator, made his first spaceflight.

The Crew 6 mission was also notable for including UAE astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, 41, the second human from his country to fly into space and the first to launch from US soil as part of a long-term space station team.

Rounding out Crew 6 of four was Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, 42, who like Alneyadi is an engineer and space rookie designated as the team’s mission specialist.

Fedyaev is the second cosmonaut to fly aboard an American spacecraft under a renewed rideshare deal signed by NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency in July, despite heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Upon arrival, the crew prepared to perform a series of standard leak tests and pressurize the passageway between the capsule and the ISS before opening the hatch to the space station’s interior.

The Crew 6 team is welcomed aboard the space station by seven current ISS occupants – three NASA crew members including Commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Native American woman to fly into space, along with three Russians and a Japanese astronaut.

These seven are expected to complete their mission and leave the space station later this month. Four will return in the SpaceX Dragon they flew to orbit in October, and three more will return home in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that flew empty to the ISS last week to replace one that launched in December a coolant leak occurred while docked with the station.

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles

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