Disappointingly, a problem with the system used for Falcon 9’s first ignition caused the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, carrying a four-person crew to the International Space Station, to stop three minutes into takeoff early Monday morning. Position machines.
Crew-6 commander Stephen Bowen, Warren “Woody” Hoburg, astronaut Andrey Fedayev and Emirati astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, the first Arab assigned to a long-duration spaceflight, scrubbed and waited patiently inside the spacecraft while the rocket’s propellants fired. Drained.
SpaceX’s closeout team then returned to the pad, opened the capsule’s side hatch and helped the crew climb out of the vehicle to return to NASA crew quarters. It was the first weather-related launch scrub for a Crew Dragon spacecraft since shuttles began ferrying astronauts to the space station in 2020.
The scrub was triggered by a problem with the engine ignition fluid, a chemical called triethylaluminum triethylboron, or “TEA-TEB,” which reacts with liquid oxygen to spin the Falcon 9’s nine first-stage engines.
If the problem can be resolved in time, NASA and SpaceX will make another attempt to launch the Crew-6 mission at 12:34 a.m. Thursday. Mission managers abandoned Tuesday’s launch attempt due to expected inclement weather and Wednesday was rejected due to space station rendezvous requirements.
In addition to disappointing the crew, the scrub also spoiled SpaceX’s opportunity to launch three Falcon 9s in just 13 hours, scheduled to launch two batches of Starlink Internet satellites into orbit in Florida and California in the afternoon. Those flights appeared to be on schedule, but bad weather threatened the California launch.
Bowen and company will be greeted whenever Crew-6 takes off by Crew-5 commanders Nicole Mann, Josh Kasada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, and astronaut Anna Kikhina, the first Russian astronaut to launch aboard Crew Dragon. They arrived at the station last October and plan to return to Earth on March 6 to complete a 151-day mission.
Greeting the Crew-6 flyers were Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Bedlin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio. They visited the lab last September and originally planned to fly home in March.
But their Soyuz MS-22 shuttle was crippled on December 14 when a micrometeoroid ruptured a coolant line. After an analysis, Russian engineers concluded that the spacecraft could not be safely used again because the sensing systems could overheat.
Instead, a replacement Soyuz — MS-23 — launched last Thursday, carrying equipment and supplies instead of a crew. The spacecraft successfully docked with the station on Saturday night, giving Prokofiev and his crew a safe ride home.
But to get the crew rotation schedule back on track, the trio must spend an additional six months in space, returning home this fall after a full year in orbit. They will share the station with Crew 6 most of the time.
Alneyadi, a father of six, will be the second Emirati to fly in space, but the first will require a six-month stay on the station. During his trip, the two Saudi flyers will visit the laboratory complex for a week as part of a commercial mission managed by Houston-based Axiom Space.
“I think it’s going to be very interesting,” Alniadi said after arriving at the Kennedy Space Center last week. “It’s for science, to spread knowledge about how important it is to fly (in space) and to push the boundaries of exploration, not just in leading countries.
“Our region is also thirsty to learn more. And I think we can be ambassadors on these missions. We can come back with knowledge and share everything we’ve learned with everyone.”