A long-exposure photograph shows SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew-6 mission in the company’s
SpaceX launched four people to the International Space Station from Florida as Elon Musk’s the company begins the final of the original six missions it was assigned by NASA.
Known as Crew-6, the mission for NASA will take the group up to the space station for a six-month stay in orbit. The mission is SpaceX’s sixth operational crewed launch for NASA to date and the company’s ninth human spaceflight to date.
“If you enjoyed your trip, don’t forget to give us five stars,” SpaceX mission control shouted after the capsule reached orbit.
“It was great, thank you,” replied Crew-6 commander Stephen Bowen.
Crew-6 launched shortly after midnight on Thursday morning and began a roughly 24-hour journey to the ISS. The mission brings the number of astronauts SpaceX has launched to 34, including both government and private missions, since its first crewed launch in May 2020.
The Crew-6 astronauts before launch, from left: Russian cosmonaut
The crew consists of two Americans, one Russian and one Emirati: NASA astronauts Warren Hoburg and Bowen, Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev and United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alneyadi.
SpaceX launched the astronauts in its Crew Dragon capsule called Endeavour, atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Both the rocket and capsule are reusable, with the latter flying on its fourth mission to date.
After a last minute delay during SpaceX’s first launch attempt on Monday, a data review identified a clogged filter in a ground system as the cause of an apparent problem in the fluid that ignites the rocket’s engines. SpaceX replaced the filter and completed the verification steps to make Thursday’s launch.
SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon spacecraft and fine-tuned its Falcon 9 rocket under NASA’s competitive Commercial Crew program, competing against Boeing’s Starliner capsule. But Boeings the capsule is still in development, with costly delays pushing back the start of operational Starliner flights.
NASA is awarded SpaceX with additional missions, totaling 14, compared to Boeing’s six.