UAE 6-month space mission: Rocket for historic ISS expedition now in vertical position at launch complex

A static-fire test is scheduled tomorrow for the first launch attempt on February 27

By Angel Tesorero

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Photos: SpaceX/Twitter
Photos: SpaceX/Twitter

Published: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 10:40 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Mar 2023, 12:30 PM

The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon Endeavour spacecraft that will carry UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and his Crew-6 colleagues to the International Space Station (ISS) are now in a vertical position at Launch Complex 39A at Nasa's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, targeting Monday, February 27, for launch.

After being carefully rolled out of the hangar, it took almost 12 hours to navigate the spacecraft into position at the launch pad.

The mission is space agency Nasa’s sixth crew rotation flight involving a US commercial spacecraft carrying crew for a science expedition aboard the orbiting microgravity laboratory.

American spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp) tweeted pictures of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon Endeavour and said: “Team is completing pre-flight checkouts and setting up for no earlier than Sunday, February 26 for launch of Starlink; launch of Crew-6, which has priority, is currently targeted for Monday, February 27.”

The original launch of Crew-6 was set for Sunday, February 26, but was later moved to the following day at 10.45am (UAE time).

Photo Courtesy: Twitter
Photo Courtesy: Twitter

“If weather and all other aspects of Crew-6 are go, we’ll stand down from Sunday’s launch attempt of Starlink,” Space X said in another tweet.

A static-fire test (vehicle ground test to check the whole pre-flight process and detect any potential issues) is set for Friday for the first launch attempt on February 27.

There will be three launch opportunities in a row that would satisfy the requirements to dock at the ISS, the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre earlier noted.

Al Neyadi and his three crew mates — Nasa mission commander Stephen Bowen, NASA pilot Warren Hoburg, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev — are currently in quarantine at the Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida until lift-off.

Crew-6 will spend six months doing a total of 250 research experiments, out of which Al Neyadi will personally conduct at least 20 experiments, apart from fulfilling other tasks and conducting maintenance work on the orbiting science laboratory.

This mission will make the UAE only the 11th country in the world to send astronauts on a long-term mission to space.

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