Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Touchdown was at approximately 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT) on Tuesday, February 21. The crew members greeted NASA officials and answered a few questions from reporters.
The Crew-6 mission is scheduled to launch at 1:45 a.m. EST (0645 GMT) on February 27 from Launch Complex 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour atop a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station (ISS).
Endurance will carry two NASA astronauts, Mission Commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Woody Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, who will join as mission specialists.
Mission Commander Bowen will be responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry, and will serve as an Expedition 69 flight engineer aboard the station. He's a veteran of three space shuttle missions: STS-126 in 2008, STS-132 in 2010, and STS-133 in 2011, logged more than 40 days in space, including 47 hours and 18 minutes during seven spacewalks. This will be his fourth trip into space.
Pilot Hoburg was selected as an astronaut in 2017, this will be his first flight. He's responsible for spacecraft systems and performance, and will serve as an Expedition 69 flight engineer.
"It's amazing how far we've come in the Commercial Crew Program. We weren't launching from Florida when I showed up at NASA, and now here we are on a beautiful day arriving in Florida,"
"And it's just such an exciting special moment. Amazing crew. We have an amazing team throughout NASA and our industry partners supporting us, and it's just a real honor to be part of this crew. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us on the ISS, and we are excited and ready to get to work." Hoburg told reporters today.
Al Neyadi will represent the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He will be the first Emerati astronaut to fly on a commercial spacecraft and the first time the UAE has participated in a long-duration space mission, following the first Arab astronaut to go to space, Hazza Al Mansouri, who went to space in 2019 for an eight-day trip.
He will become a flight engineer for Expedition 69 on the ISS and study the impacts of microgravity on the human body in preparation for future missions to the Moon and Mars.
"We can't thank everybody enough that helped prepare us for this mission. We thank our families, our trainers, throughout the agencies and I thank my colleagues, my teams. I think we have a great team," Al-Neyadi said. "I can't ask for more of a team. I think we are ready physically, mentally and technically. And we can't wait to launch to space and conduct the mission." After a recent crew swap agreement between NASA and Roscosmos in July 2022, cosmonaut Fedyaev, another first-time space flier, will also serve as a mission specialist, working to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. He will be a flight engineer for Expedition 69.
"We have been training for months, for days now, and it's all behind us and we are ready to fly. We're ready to go. We just have to do it now. And I would like to thank everyone and good luck to our crew," Fedyaev said.
Assuming an on-time liftoff, SpaceX's Dragon Endurance spacecraft will dock to the ISS' Harmony module's space-facing port on Tuesday, February 28th at 2:29 a.m. EST (0729 GMT). After the Dragon Endurance spacecraft docks at the space station, it will temporarily raise the size of the lab's crew to 11 people.
The four-person crew will live and work on the space station for about six months. They will replace the Crew-5 astronauts, who have been on the station since October and will depart for a return to Earth several days after Crew-6's arrival.
The flight will be NASA's sixth operational crew launch on a SpaceX rocket and spacecraft and SpaceX's ninth astronaut mission overall, including two all-private crews and the first piloted Dragon test flight in 2020.
Crew-6 was originally planned to launch on February 26th at 2:07 a.m. EST (0707 GMT).
However, during the Flight Readiness Review meeting on February 21, NASA's Ken Bowersox said everyone polled "go," but the launch has slipped due to needing more time to complete remaining "open work" with the Crew Dragon and Falcon 9. NASA commercial crew program manager Steve Stich added that launch preparations were running a little behind.
The team will be looking at the thermal performance of Endeavour's panels and some analysis of composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) in the Falcon 9, bottles of helium that reside in the rocket's liquid-oxygen tank.
"We have noticed that there was blending done in some areas on the liner, and we have some testing and analysis to go make sure that those are good for flight," Stich said of the COPV work during Tuesday's briefing.
Falcon 9 is still on schedule to roll out tomorrow, Wednesday. If the launch slips from February 27th, backup opportunities are February 28 at 1:22 a.m. EST and time for March 2-4 hasn't been announced because it's a little early for weather prediction.
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