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Monday, June 5, 2023

New crew members from US, Russia and UAE begin missions on space station|

Cape Canaveral, Florida (USA) –

After overcoming some problems with the capsule’s docking hook, the new crew arrived at the International Space Station to begin their six-month mission.

The SpaceX capsule and its four astronauts had to wait 20 meters from the orbiting laboratory on Friday as flight controllers in California scrambled to come up with a software fix.

The same problem arose shortly after liftoff on Thursday. While all 12 hooks on the capsule appeared to be fine, the switch on one failed. SpaceX Mission Control urged patience and told astronauts in the United States, Russia and the United Arab Emirates they could stay in this hold mode for up to two hours.

Once the new software commands were passed on, the astronauts were given clearance to move on. In the end, the connection was an hour late as the capsule and station soared 420 kilometers above the coast of Somalia.

“After a short scenic orbit, welcome to the International Space Station,” SpaceX Mission Control radioed. NASA officials agree the delay has increased expectations.

The newcomers include Sultan al-Neyadi of the United Arab Emirates, the first astronaut from the Arab world to spend extended periods in space. Neyadi is the second person from the UAE to be sent into orbit by a rocket.

“I couldn’t have been happier seeing old friends in space, coming together like a big family. That’s the nature of space exploration,” Neyadi said upon entering the space station. “The UAE is taking a big step towards pushing the boundaries of exploration.”

Also flying in the capsule: NASA’s Stephen Bowen, a retired Navy submariner with three Space Shuttle flights; Warren “Woody” Hoburg, a space novice and former research scientist at MIT; and Andrei Fedyaev, a space novice from Russia Air Force retired.

Earlier Thursday, SpaceX launched four astronauts for NASA from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Their flight was delayed for several days due to a clogged filter in the ignition fluid line.

The UAE sent its first astronaut, Hazzaa al-Mansoori, to the space station on a Russian rocket in 2019. Decades have passed since NASA’s space shuttle era launched the first Arab satellite in 1985. The longest spaceflight of any of them was about a week.

Emirati space official Hamad al-Mansoori called the space station from Dubai to wish Nayadi and his crew a safe and successful mission, saying it was “a huge milestone”.

Next week the space station will house 11 people.

The newcomers will replace two NASA astronauts, a Japanese cosmonaut and a Russian cosmonaut who have been on the space station since October, and will return next week in their own SpaceX capsule. In September, two other Russians and an American traveled to the space station in a Russian Soyuz capsule that had to be replaced due to a leak, delaying their mission by a full year.

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