The next set of astronauts bound for the International Space Station — led by the first ever Navy submarine officer selected as an astronaut — launched early Thursday morning on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission.
Liftoff occurred at 12:34 a.m. Eastern time from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, according to a release from the space agency. This was the second attempt to get the mission off the ground after a planned launch on Monday was scrubbed just before liftoff.
Using the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft, which is powered by a Falcon 9 rocket, the SpaceX Crew-6 team became the the sixth group of astronauts to go into space as a part of NASA’s commercial crew program. The group will spend six months at the space station conducting a variety of experiments before returning to Earth.
“Crew-6 will be busy aboard the International Space Station, conducting over 200 experiments that will help us to prepare for missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, as well as improve life here on Earth,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in the statement. “We look forward to seeing all that they accomplish.”
Retired submarine officer Capt. Stephen Bowen, who has made three prior trips into space, is leading the mission. Once aboard the station, Bowen will serve as an Expedition 69 flight engineer.
Bowen is joined by fellow NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, Sultan Al Neyadi from the United Arab Emirates and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, all first-time space flyers.
The Crew-6 team is scheduled to dock at the space station during the early morning hours Friday. They will replace the outgoing Crew-5 team, led by Marine Col. Nicole Mann, which docked at the space station in October 2022.
The next team of astronauts that will grace the stars, with the SpaceX Crew-7 mission, will be commanded by Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jasmin Moghbeli.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media