Published:  02:57 PM, 02 March 2023

SpaceX Dragon crew blasts off for International Space Station

SpaceX Dragon crew blasts off for International Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on Thursday to the International Space Station carrying two NASA astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and the second Emirati to voyage to space.

The SpaceX Dragon Crew-6 mission launched at 12:34 am (0534 GMT) Thursday from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a livestream of the launch showed.

The launch had been scrubbed on Monday just minutes before liftoff because of a clog in a filter that supplies ignition fluid to start the rocket engines.

"Congratulations to the NASA and SpaceX teams for another history-making mission to the International Space Station!" NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

The Dragon crew capsule, dubbed Endeavour, is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 1:17 am (0617 GMT) on Friday after a 24-hour voyage.

NASA's Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, Russia's Andrey Fedyaev and Sultan al-Neyadi of the United Arab Emirates are to spend six months on the orbiting station.

Neyadi, 41, will be the fourth astronaut from an Arab country and the second from the oil-rich UAE to journey to space; his compatriot Hazzaa al-Mansoori flew an eight-day mission in 2019.

Neyadi, Hoburg, the Endeavour pilot, and Fedyaev, the Russian mission specialist, will all be making their first space flights.

Fedyaev is the second Russian cosmonaut to fly to the ISS aboard a SpaceX rocket. NASA astronauts fly regularly to the station on Russian Soyuz craft.

Space has remained a rare venue of cooperation between Moscow and Washington since the Russian offensive in Ukraine placed them in sharp opposition.

Bowen, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, said politics rarely come up while in space.

"We're all professionals. We keep focused on the mission itself," he said. "It's always been a great relationship we've had with cosmonauts once we get to space."

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