A SpaceX capsule delivers the latest four-person crew to the International Space Station

March 3 (Reuters) – A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying two U.S. astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and a United Arab Emirates astronaut arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS) early on Friday. .

The autonomous spacecraft, known as Endeavour, docked with the space station shortly after 1:40 a.m. EST (0640 GMT) Friday, about 25 hours after launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The connection was confirmed as the ISS and capsule flew about 250 miles (420 km) above Earth at 17,500 miles per hour (28,164 km) over the coast of East Africa, according to a live NASA webcast of the rendezvous.

Docking maneuvers fell behind schedule as Crew Dragon made its final approach to the station.

SpaceX ground control crews suspended the capsule 65 feet (20 meters) from the ISS for 23 minutes while checking that all 12 latching hooks used to secure the capsule to the docking port were properly deployed.

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The problem was finally resolved after a software override implemented by ground crews.

Upon arrival, the crew will conduct a standard series of leak tests, pressurizing the passage between the capsule and the ISS, before hatching inside the station, expected to take about two hours.

Once aboard, the four-person team faces a busy workload of more than 200 experiments and technical demonstrations, ranging from studies of human cell growth in space to controlling combustibles in microgravity.

Some of the research under NASA’s Artemis program could pave the way for long-duration human missions to the moon and beyond, the successor to Apollo, the US space agency said.

The ISS crew is responsible for carrying out maintenance and repairs on the station and preparing for the arrival and departure of other astronauts and cargo payloads.

Designated Crew 6, it marks the sixth long-term ISS crew that SpaceX has flown for NASA since the private rocket venture founded by billionaire Elon Musk began sending American astronauts into orbit in May 2020. Musk is the CEO of electric car maker Tesla ( TSLA ).O) and social media site Twitter.

The latest crew member is Stephen Bowen, 59, a former U.S. Navy submarine officer who has logged more than 40 days in orbit, a veteran of three space shuttles and seven space walks. Fellow NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 37, an electrical engineer, computer science specialist and designated commercial pilot, made his first space flight.

The Crew 6 mission also included UAE astronaut Sultan Al Nayadi, 41, the second person from his country to fly into space and the first person to launch from US soil as part of a long-duration space station crew.

Rounding out the four-person Crew 6 is Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedayov, 42, who, like Alneyadi, is an engineer and cosmonaut.

Reporting by Steve Corman in Los Angeles. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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