Science and Tech

SpaceX will attempt its second launch of astronauts to the International Space Station after a last-minute launch problem

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() — SpaceX and NASA are once again preparing to launch a new crew to the International Space Station after the first liftoff attempt was thwarted at the last minute by a clogged filter.

The mission ––which will carry two NASA astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and a United Arab Emirates astronaut–– is scheduled to lift off at 12:34 a.m. Miami time this Thursday from the Kennedy Space Center in NASA in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Crew Dragon, the vehicle that carries the astronauts, will separate from the rocket after launch and spend about a day maneuvering in orbit before linking up with the space station. The capsule is scheduled to dock at 1:17 am Miami time on Friday.

The issue that thwarted the first launch attempt on Tuesday was resolved early Wednesday morning, according to a NASA update released on your website.

During the launch broadcast, those responsible reported that the ground systems engineers had made the decision to call off the launch with less than three minutes left on the clock. Engineers said they detected a problem with a substance called triethylaluminum triethylboron, or TEA-TEB, a highly combustible fluid used to ignite the Falcon 9 rocket engines on liftoff.

The problem occurred during the “bleeding” process, intended to ensure that each of the nine Falcon 9 rocket motors receives a sufficient amount of TEA-TEB fluid when it is time for ignition. According to NASA, the problem arose when the fluid leaked from a holding tank on the ground into a “catch tank.”

“After a thorough review of the data and the ground system, NASA and SpaceX determined that there was reduced flow back to the ground-based TEA-TEB capture tank due to a clogged ground filter,” according to the update. The NASA.

The clogged filter explained the error that engineers had observed on launch day, according to NASA.

“SpaceX teams replaced the filter, purged the TEA-TEB line with nitrogen, and verified that the lines were clean and ready for launch.”

Crew-6 astronauts waited to board their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Tuesday during the launch countdown, which was ultimately canceled due to a ground systems issue. Credit: NASA

All about this release

This mission will mark the seventh astronaut flight SpaceX has conducted on behalf of NASA since 2020, continuing the public-private effort to keep the orbiting laboratory fully staffed.

The Crew-6 team on board will include NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, who will fly for the first time, as well as Sultan Alneyadi, who will be the second astronaut of the United Arab Emirates to travel into space, and the Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.

Once Bowen, Hoburg, Fedyaev and Alneyadi are aboard the space station, they will work to take over operations for the SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts who arrived at the space station in October 2022.

They are expected to spend up to six months aboard the orbiting laboratory, conducting scientific experiments and maintaining the two-decade-old station.

The mission comes as the astronauts currently on the space station are dealing with another transportation problem. In December, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that had been used to transport cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio to the space station leaked coolant.

After the capsule was deemed unsafe for astronauts to return, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, launched a replacement vehicle on February 23. It arrived at the space station on Saturday.

work with the russians

Russian cosmonaut Fedyaev joined the Crew-6 team as part of a shared transport agreement signed in 2022 between NASA and Roscosmos. The agreement is intended to ensure continued access to the space station for both Roscosmos and NASA. In the event that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule or the Russian Soyuz spacecraft used to transport people to the station fail and are put out of service, its counterpart will be able to launch astronauts from both countries into orbit.

This flight will mark Fedyaev’s first mission into space.

Despite ongoing geopolitical tensions sparked by the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Russia remains the United States’ main partner on the space station. NASA officials have repeatedly said the conflict has had no impact on cooperation between the countries’ space agencies.

“Space cooperation has a very long history, and we are setting an example of how to live on Earth,” Fedyaev said during a press conference on January 24.

Bowen, the 59-year-old NASA astronaut who will command the Crew-6 mission, also weighed in.

spacex falcon 9

SpaceX Crew-6 astronauts pause for a photo after arriving at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 21: (from left to right) Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and NASA astronauts Warren “Woody” Hoburg and Stephen Bowen. Credit: Kim Shiflett/NASA

“I’ve been working and training with cosmonauts for over 20 years, and it’s always been amazing,” he said during the briefing. “Once you get into space it’s one crew, one vehicle, and we all have the same goal.”

Bowen grew up in Cohasset, Massachusetts, graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy in 1986 and an MS in Ocean Engineering from the Joint Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1993.

He also completed military submarine training and served in the US Navy before being selected to the NASA Astronaut Corps in 2000, becoming the first submarine officer chosen by the space agency.

He previously completed three missions between 2008 and 2011, during NASA’s Space Shuttle Program, logging a total of more than 47 days in space.

“‘I just hope my body retains the memory of 12 years ago so I can enjoy it,'” Bowen said of the Crew-6 release.

This is the rest of the Crew-6 team

Hoburg, who is piloting this mission, was born in Pittsburgh and received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, before becoming an Adjunct Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. He joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 2017.

“We’re going to live six months in space. I think back to six months and I think, okay, that’s a long time,” Hoburg told reporters about his expectations for the trip.

However, Hoburg added: “I can’t wait to get my first look through the dome,” referring to the well-known area of ​​the space station that features a large window offering panoramic views of Earth.

Alneyadi, who in 2019 replaced Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, the first UAE astronaut to go into orbit, will now become the first Emirati astronaut to complete a long-term stay in space.

At a news conference in January, Alneyadi said he planned to bring food from the Middle East to share with his crewmates while in space. A jiujitsu practitioner, she will also wear a kimono, the traditional uniform of this martial art.

“It’s hard to believe that this is really happening,” Alneyadi said in a Press conference after arriving at the Kennedy Space Center on February 21. “I can’t ask for more from a team. I think we are prepared: physically, mentally and technically.”

What will they do in space?

During their stay in space, Crew-6 astronauts will oversee more than 200 science and technology projects, including research on how substances burn in microgravity and sample research. microbial to be collected from outside the space station.

The crew will host two other key missions that will call at the space station during their stay. The first is the Boeing Crew Flight Test, which will be the first astronaut mission under a Boeing-NASA partnership. Scheduled for April, the flight will carry NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Sunita Williams to the space station, marking the last phase of a test and demonstration program that Boeing needs to conduct to certify its Starliner spacecraft for routine astronaut missions. .

Next, in May, a group of four astronauts is scheduled to arrive on Mission Axiom 2 (AX-2), a privately funded spaceflight to the space station. That initiative, which will deploy a separate SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, will be commanded by Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut who is now a private astronaut for the Texas-based space company Axiom, which acted as a go-between and organized the mission. .

It will also include three paying customers, similar to Mission Axiom 1, which visited the space station in April 2022, including the first Saudi Arabian astronauts to visit the orbiting laboratory. Their seats were paid by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Both the Boeing CFT and AX-2 missions will be major milestones, Bowen said in January.

“It’s another paradigm shift,” he said. “Those two events, big events, in spaceflight that happen during our time, plus all the other work we have to do, I don’t think we’ll be able to fully digest it until after it happens.”

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