SpaceX’s next astronaut mission will be groundbound for at least one extra day.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to launch the Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA early Monday morning (Feb. 27) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But the launch team called the effort off less than 2.5 minutes before T-0, citing a ground-system issue.
“Teams were tracking a ground issue with TEA-TEB — that’s the ignition fluid that actually sparks with the oxidizer and allows the engines to fire,” NASA commentator Gary Jordan said during the agency’s webcast of Monday’s launch attempt.
That issue could not resolved in time ahead of the instantanteous launch window at 1:45 a.m. EST (0645 GMT), leading to Monday morning’s scrub. The next launch opportunity comes on Tuesday (Feb. 28) at 1:22 a.m. EST (0622 GMT).
Crew-6 will send NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Sultan Al Neyadi and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev toward the ISS aboard the Dragon capsule Endeavour.
It’s a historic mission; Al Neyadi will become the first person from the UAE to spend a long-duration mission aboard the ISS. His countryman Hazzaa Ali Almansoori traveled to the orbiting lab in 2019 but spent just eight days off Earth.
Crew-6 will be the sixth operational astronaut mission that SpaceX flies for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and the company’s ninth crewed flight overall. It will be the fourth crewed mission to the ISS for the capsule Endeavour, which also flew the Demo-2 test flight in 2020, Crew-2 in 2021 and the all-private Ax-1 mission in April 2022.
— SpaceX Dragon capsule arrives at launch site for Feb. 27 astronaut liftoff (photos)
— SpaceX’s Dragon: First Private Spacecraft to Reach the Space Station
— UAE astronaut on SpaceX Crew-6 mission will spend Ramadan in space
The next day or so is shaping up to be very busy for SpaceX. The company plans to launch two batches of its Starlink internet satellites less than an hour apart on Monday, one from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 1:38 p.m. EST (1838 GMT) and the other from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 2:31 p.m. EST (1931 GMT).
If Crew-6 manages to lift off at 1:22 a.m. EST (0622 GMT) on Tuesday, SpaceX will end up pulling off three launches in less than 12 hours — a remarkable and unprecedented feat. The company’s current three-launch record is 34 hours (opens in new tab), set in December 2022.