Four astronauts—two from NASA and the others from Russia and the United Arab Emirates—are set to blast off and begin their six-month mission on the International Space Station. You can watch the launch live right here.
SpaceX’s sixth operational crewed mission for NASA is scheduled for launch on Monday, February 27 at 1:45 a.m. ET (Sunday, February 26 at 10:45 p.m. PT). That’s probably a bit late for some U.S. viewers, but space junkies living near Florida’s Space Coast might want to stay up to see the nighttime spectacle in person, with the Falcon 9 blasting off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
NASA’s coverage of the launch is scheduled to begin on Sunday at 10:15 p.m. ET, with live feeds available at NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app. You can watch the pre-game coverage and launch at the feed above. SpaceX plans to provide a broadcast of the launch at its website, with coverage beginning one hour before launch.
The reusable Falcon 9 first stage will attempt a vertical landing atop the Just Read the Instructions droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. For this launch, the first stage booster, designated B1078-1, will perform its inaugural flight.
Buckled inside SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft Endeavour will be NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev. The quartet will spend the next six months aboard the ISS, where they will conduct over 200 science and research activities, in addition to performing routine maintenance tasks.
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After docking, the four men will be subsumed into ISS Expedition 69, raising the ISS population to 11. Crew-5, consisting of NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA’s Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, aren’t sticking around, however, as they’re slated to return home aboard the docked SpaceX Endurance spacecraft several days after Crew-6 arrives.
There is some work to do before Crew-5 can say adieu, however. Endurance is currently fitted with an extra seat to accomodate NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who needed a spot aboard a lifeboat spacecraft in the event of a serious ISS emergency. His original lifeboat, Russia’s Soyuz MS-22, was deemed unsafe after an apparent micrometeorite caused a coolant leak in December. Rubio no longer needs the seat aboard Endurance now that the replacement Soyuz MS-23 has reached the station, so it needs to be returned to the MS-22 before the damaged spacecraft gets shipped back home sans crew. Rubio, along with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, will return home in September using the recently docked Soyuz MS-23.
Clear as mud, I know. But such is the current state of things in low Earth orbit.
More: Russia Successfully Launches ‘Lifeboat’ Mission to the ISS