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Tue, Feb 28, 2023

NASA Scrubs 27 February SpaceX Crew-6 Launch

Next Attempt to be Made 02 March

An as-of-yet undisclosed issue with the Falcon-9 rocket booster’s fuel system has compelled NASA and SpaceX to scrub the planned 27 February 2023 launch of the Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX teams are currently investigating a possible malfunction of either the system by which the Falcon-9’s TEA-TEB (triethylaluminum triethylboron) fuel is delivered, or the fuel itself. The function of the Falcon-9’s 192,000-pound-feet-thrust Merlin 1D engines is predicated upon the mixing of TEA-TEB with liquid-oxygen (oxidizer). Combined, the substances engender a powerful exothermic reaction, the vectored channeling of which propels the rocket aloft.

SpaceX has reportedly removed the propellant from the Falcon-9 rocket and disembarked the astronauts from the Endeavor Crew Dragon capsule. Neither stage of the hybrid spacecraft is reported to have sustained damage.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson remarked in a statement: "I'm proud of the NASA and SpaceX teams' focus and dedication to keeping Crew-6 safe. Human spaceflight is an inherently risky endeavor and, as always, we will fly when we are ready."

When launched, Crew-6—as implied by the moniker—will occasion the sixth crew rotation flight of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The vehicle will carry NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, who will serve as mission commander and pilot respectively, as well as mission specialists Sultan Alneyadi of the United Arab Emirates, and Andrey Fedyaev, a cosmonaut of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation. The quartet is slated to remain aboard the ISS for up to six-months, during which they will conduct scientific experiments and help maintain the station until returning to Earth later this year.

Regrettably, the Crew-6 mission’s 28 February alternate launch window has been declared unusable on account of forecast unfavorable weather conditions. In the event the Falcon-9’s fuel-system malady can be resolved, the mission’s next launch attempt will be made on Thursday, 02 March 2023 at 00:34 EST.

The Crew-6 mission profile calls for the Endeavor capsule to dock with the forward port of the ISS’s Harmony module approximately 25-hours after liftoff. Upon arrival, Bowen, Hoburg, Alneyadi, and Fedyaev will disembark Endeavor, and a check of the capsule’s workings will be performed. Provided Endeavor checks clean, SpaceX Crew-5 members Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, Koichi Wakata, and Anna Kikina—who’ve been aboard the ISS since October 2022—will embark the vehicle and return to Earth, descending via parachute-assisted splashdown to predesignated coordinates off Florida’s coast.

As of January 2021, Falcon-9 had logged the largest number of successful launches among U.S. rockets. What’s more, Falcon-9 is the only U.S. rocket certified to transport humans to the International Space Station, and holds the distinction of being the only commercial rocket to ever carry human beings to Earth orbit. On 24 January 2021, Falcon-9 delivered and deployed 143 satellites to orbit, thereby setting a record for the most satellites launched by a single rocket.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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