NASA's SpaceX Crew-6 Launch Lights Up The Night Sky As Astronauts Prepare To Dock
NASA's SpaceX Crew-6 mission launched successfully from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the early morning hours. The crew onboard the Dragon spacecraft are currently preparing to dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station's Harmony module at approximately 1:17a.m. EST, Friday, March 3, 2023.
The SpaceX Crew-6 mission is transporting four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Those include two NASA astronauts, along with a United Arab Emirates (UAE) astronaut and a Roscosmos astronaut. Once onboard ISS, the four will be partaking in over 200 experiments that are intended to prepare NASA and other space agencies for future missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, according to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
Once successfully docked to ISS, the four new occupants of the space station will join three other NASA astronauts, a Japanese astronaut, and three Roscosmos cosmonauts for a short period before the three SpaceX Crew-5 members return to Earth a few days later. Live coverage of the docking can be viewed via the feed above. Coverage is set to begin on March 2, at approximately 11:30p.m. EST.
Some of the studies that Crew-6 will be undertaking while in low-Earth orbit include looking into how particular materials burn in microgravity, tissue chip research on heart, brain, and cartilage functions, and an investigation that will collect microbial samples from outside of the space station.
"For more than two decades, humans have continuously lived and worked aboard the International Space Station," remarked Kathryn Lueders, Associate Administrator for NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. She continued, "Commercial Crew Program missions like Crew-6 are essential so we can continue to maximize the important research possible only in space station's unique microgravity environment."
Onboard the Dragon spacecraft is NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen, who is making his fourth trip into space, with the prior trips being part of the space shuttle program. This is NASA astronaut Warren Hoburg's first flight into space since being selected as an astronaut in 2017. Both will serve as flight engineers during their time on ISS.
The launch of the Crew-6 mission earlier this morning can be viewed via SpaceX's YouTube channel.