What UAE astronaut AlNeyadi and Crew-6 mates will do during 25-hour transit in space

The spacecraft carrying Crew-6 members will dock with ISS on Friday

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Published: Thu 2 Mar 2023, 3:43 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Mar 2023, 4:39 PM

Following a successful launch from Kennedy Space Centre on Thursday, UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi and his Crew-6 colleagues are on a 25-hour journey aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour to the International Space Station (ISS) for a six-month mission in micro-gravity.

At a press briefing held two hours after the lift-off, mission ground control said the spacecraft has safely reached orbit and the crew onboard shared it was a nice and smooth ride. Endeavour is travelling at approximately 28,163kph and is expected to reach the ISS almost 25 hours after launch, at 10.17am (UAE time) on Friday.

Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Program at SpaceX, assured everything is in order for Friday morning’s scheduled docking despite an issue with one of the hook micro sensors aboard Crew Dragon. Reed said the micro sensor showed an anomaly that has been corrected.

Meal, new suit and space toilet

During transit, AlNeyadi and the rest of Crew-6 (Nasa mission commander Stephen Bowen, Nasa pilot Warren Hoburg, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev) will change out of their flight suits, eat some packed food, and constantly communicate with mission control to affirm that things are going as planned.

Dragon’s nosecone (the aerodynamic, protective top of the spaceship) is open, providing the crew a nice view of space. Crew Dragon also has human-friendly features like comfortable seating, touchscreens, life support systems and a space toilet.

This is a big improvement from the past experience of Hazza AlMansoori, the first Emirati astronaut who flew to the ISS in September 2019. Crew Dragon is more spacious than the decades-old Soyuz capsule that brought AlMansoori to the orbiting space laboratory.

Sleep during space transit

During the 25-hour space flight, between launch and docking on ISS, the four-man Crew-6 will be able to get some sleep while strapped on their seats. They can get as much as about eight hours of rest.

Crew Dragon, which completed its first crewed flight to the ISS in 2019, is actually designed for seven people, but Nasa needs only four seats so that is the number of seats right now.

Autonomous docking

When it arrives to the space station, Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module. Prior to that the spacecraft will carry out several thruster firings to position itself in the same orbital field as ISS and start a fully-automatic process to dock at the upper port of the lab’s forward Harmony module.

The average distance between the ISS and Earth is around 400 kilometres, at its closest approach, the ISS can be as close as about 370 kilometers from the Earth and its farthest distance, is around 460 kilometres.

The trip to the ISS is not a straight path. The microgravity laboratory is orbiting Earth every 90 minutes at a velocity of 28,000 kph and the journey to the space station is a series of rocket burns or engine firings that must be precisely timed to achieve the correct orbit

SpaceX Crew-1, the first operational crewed flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft launched in November 2020, reached ISS in 28 hours; SpaceX Crew-2 docked after a 24-hour journey; SpaceX Crew-3 arrived after 21 hours; SpaceX Crew 4 achieved it in just 16 hours; while Spacex Crew 5 reached the ISS after 29 hours.



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