Spectacular Night Launch Sends SpaceX Crew 6 to the Space Station

The NASA/SpaceX Crew 6 members are now on their way to the International Space Stations after a spectacular nighttime liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

At 12:34 am EST, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent a Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour into orbit. Onboard were NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, along with United Arab Emirates (UAE) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.

“Just want to say, as a rookie flyer, that was one heck of ride. Thank you!” Hoburg radioed back to Earth after Dragon successfully separated from the Falcon 9 rocket. “It’s an absolute miracle of engineering, and I just feel so lucky that I get to fly on this amazing machine.”

The crew is expected to dock to the ISS about 25 hours after the launch, at about 1:17 a.m., Friday, March 3, and have planned mission on the ISS for approximately 6 months.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, left,NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, second from left, NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen, second from right, and UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, right, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen as they prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-6 mission launch, on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

Crew-6 will join Expedition 68, consisting of NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann, and Josh Cassada, as well as JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, and Anna Kikina. For a short time, the 11 crew members will live and work in space together until Crew-5 members Mann, Cassada, Wakata, and Kikina return to Earth a few days later.

This is the ninth overall crewed flight for SpaceX, and its sixth operational mission for NASA’s Commercial Crew program.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station on March 2, 2023. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

During their time on orbit, Crew 6 will conduct hundreds of science experiments and technology?demonstrations. Experiments include studies of how particular materials burn in microgravity, tissue chip research on heart, brain, and cartilage functions, and an investigation that will collect microbial samples from the outside of the space station.

“For more than two decades, humans have continuously lived and worked aboard the International Space Station,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. “Commercial Crew Program missions like Crew-6 are essential so we can continue to maximize the important research possible only in the space station’s unique microgravity environment. Congratulations to the NASA and SpaceX teams on a successful launch! I am looking forward to seeing the crew safely aboard the station.”

Keep tabs on the mission at the Crew 6 Mission blog.