NASA’s sixth operational Commercial Crew Program (Crew-6) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) lifted off on March 2nd. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, United Arab Emirates (UAE) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, aboard Crew Dragon Endeavour. SpaceX’s Crew-6 voyage to the Space Station kept viewers of the mission’s live broadcast holding their breath after the Dragon spacecraft experienced a technical issue in orbit.
The astronauts took approximately 24 hours to arrive at the ISS, however, at a distance of 20 meters Dragon had to standby because a hook to attach to the ISS module did not open. “Docking was delayed slightly as mission teams completed troubleshooting of a faulty docking hook sensor on Dragon. The NASA and SpaceX teams verified that all of the docking hooks were in the proper configuration, and SpaceX developed a software override for the faulty sensor that allowed the docking process to successfully continue,” shared NASA representatives. Dragon has 12 docking hooks, the issue was with one referred to as ‘Hook 5’. SpaceX Mission Control had 2 hours to figure out how to fix the issue, as the astronauts waited 20 meters away from the Space Station in standby position.
Dragon and crew are healthy, all 12 docking hooks are open ahead of docking, and teams are testing a software override for a faulty sensor on one hook. Dragon can hold for ~ 2 hours in this position and maintain re-rendezvous capability— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 3, 2023
Fortunately, the software override that was sent to the spacecraft by SpaceX engineers on Earth worked well and the Dragon spacecraft safely docked autonomously to the Space Station at 1:40 a.m. EST while the ISS was 260 miles over the Indian Ocean off the East coast of Somalia. NASA shared a video of Dragon Endeavour docked to the ISS Harmony module, shown below. “After a brief scenic detour, welcome to the International Space Station!” SpaceX's David Hwang told the Crew-6 astronauts from Mission Control after the successful autonomous docking operation. “We're happy to be here,” responded Crew-6 Mission Commander NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen.
Dragon docked to the International Space Station pic.twitter.com/bH7d90f6P4— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 3, 2023
Crew-6 astronauts opened Dragon Endeavour’s hatch to enter the orbiting laboratory at 3:45 a.m. ET. The crew was greeted at the Space Station by Crew-5 astronauts during a welcome ceremony, including: Expedition 68 crew of NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann, and Josh Cassada, as well as Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, and Anna Kikina. NASA shared a video clip of Crew-6 entering the Space Station, linked below. Crew-6 astronauts will live and work at the ISS for around six months. “Welcome to Space Station, Crew 6! Commercial Crew Program missions are essential so we can continue to maximize the important research possible only in the space station’s unique microgravity environment. Look forward to amazing science results. Enjoy your stay aboard station!” tweeted Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. Next, Crew-5 astronauts are expected to return to Earth in around a week from now [pending date].
All aboard the orbiting laboratory! The four members of our @SpaceX #Crew6 mission have entered the @space_station and were greeted at their welcoming ceremony. Next: a safety briefing and orientation, then the new arrivals are off to catch some sleep. pic.twitter.com/wegjRG0qjs— NASA (@NASA) March 3, 2023
Welcome to @Space_Station, Crew 6! @Commercial_Crew Program missions are essential so we can continue to maximize the important research possible only in the space station’s unique microgravity environment. Look forward to amazing science results. Enjoy your stay aboard station! pic.twitter.com/ge5Duh0ZCm— Kathy Lueders (@KathyLueders) March 3, 2023
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Featured Image Source: NASA Live Broadcast
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.