The sixth operational SpaceX space station mission will make history, bringing the first United Arab Emirates long-duration astronaut to space.
Crew-6 will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on Feb. 26 or so, with four astronauts on board a Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
United Arab Emirates astronaut and Crew-6 member Sultan Al-Neyadi will be the first of his nation to do a space station rotation, following the first-ever Emirati astronaut flight in 2019.
Also on board are NASA astronauts Warren “Woody” Hoburg and Stephen Bowen, and cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev of Russian space agency Roscosmos. You can learn more about the crew below.
Sultan Al-Neyadi, 41, was one of the first two astronauts selected with the United Arab Emirates in 2017. Prior to becoming an astronaut, he received a Ph.D. in Information Technology, according to his International Astronautical Federation biography (opens in new tab).
Al-Neyadi is the first UAE astronaut to fly a normal half-year ISS rotation. He told Space.com it is a “natural progression” following the eight-day space station excursion flight by Hazzaa Ali Almansoori in 2019. The UAE is a signatory to the NASA-led Artemis Accords laying out rules for future human moon exploration as well as community norms for peaceful work in space, he added.
“It’s a matter of actively being a partner of future projects,” he said during a Jan. 25 Zoom interview of the work with NASA. Al-Neyadi added that the UAE’s Rashid rover is expected to touch down on the moon in April as another step to assisting with future exploration.
Stephen Bowen, 59, is commander of Crew-6 and a veteran astronaut of three space shuttle missions that helped assemble the ISS: STS-126, STS-132, and STS-133. He is a retired captain with the U.S. Navy and in 2000 was the first submarine officer selected for astronaut candidate training by NASA. He was fully qualified for spaceflight in 2002.
Bowen, who has not flown for 12 years, is still leaving the door open to joining moon missions with NASA’s Artemis program later in the 2020s. “We’ll have a discussion with my family,” he told Space.com in a Jan. 25 Zoom interview. “When I get back [from this mission] we’ll do an assessment to see if I still have a job, and if that opportunity comes up in the future, we’ll see.”
Born in Cohasset, Massachusetts, he has spent more than 40 days in space and has 47 hours and 18 minutes of extravehicular activity across seven spacewalks. He holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the United States Naval Academy, and a joint master of science in ocean engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program.
Bowen’s submariner experience includes three years with USS Parche (SSN 683), qualification on USS Pogy (SSN 647), a tour of duty on USS Augusta (SSN 710) as the engineering officer, and first executive officer of the pre-commissioning unit Virginia SSN 774. He also worked with the United States Special Operations Command, and served as reactor and propulsion inspector for the Navy’s Submarine Board of Inspection and Survey.
Warren “Woody” Hoburg
Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 37, is the pilot for Crew-6 and on his first space mission. He joined NASA during its 2017 astronaut candidate class and was fully certified for flying in January 2020, according to his NASA biography (opens in new tab).
“I’m very excited that I get to fly to the ISS,” Hoburg told Space.com during a Jan. 25 Zoom interview. “We’re in a time period when I get to have that opportunity, and it’s such a special place, so I’m glad I get to go there.”
Hoburg, born and raised in Pittsburgh, holds a bachelor degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. Hoburg also is an instrument-rated commercial pilot for both single-engine and multi-engine airplanes.
When Hoburg was selected by NASA, he was leading a research group at MIT, where he was an aeronautics and astronautics assistant professor. He also worked for Boeing Commercial Airplanes Product Development on software for composite manufacturing processes. He also had served as a seasonal member of Yosemite Search and Rescue, and as an operations leader for the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit.
Andrey Fedyaev is set to turn 42 years old on his very first launch day, Feb. 26. The cosmonaut was born in Serov, Sverdlovsk, in the Ural Mountains, according to his official biography (opens in new tab). (Translation provided by Google.)
“I don’t know what my family and friends are planning, but I would really want to fly on my birthday, to launch on my birthday. It would be the best gift for me,” Fedyaev told Space.com during a Jan. 25 Zoom interview. (He spoke through a Russian interpreter.)
Fedyaev joined Roscosmos as a candidate cosmonaut in 2012 and was fully certified for flight in 2014. In 2004, he received a degree in air transport and air traffic control at the Krasnodar Military Aviation Institute in southern Russia.
Fedyaev is a military pilot with 600 hours of experience and also served as assistant commander of the Ilyushin II-38 ship Yelizovo near the Kamchatka Peninsula. Kamchatka is north of Japan and situated between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea.