NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission is ‘Go’ for launch to the International Space Station following completion of a launch readiness review, weather briefing, and mission management meeting on Feb. 28. Launch is targeted at 12:34 a.m. EST Thursday, March 2, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Mission teams stood down from a Feb. 27 launch attempt to review an unusual data signature related to confirming a proper bleed in of pad supplied fluid known as triethylaluminum triethylboron (TEA-TEB). TEA-TEB is an ignition fluid used to start the Falcon 9’s nine first stage kerosene/liquid oxygen Merlin engines. The bleed-in process ensures there is an adequate supply of this fluid at each engine to mix with liquid oxygen to start the engines. During prelaunch, the TEA-TEB fluid – which originates in a ground supply tank – flows to the rocket’s interface and back to a catch tank to remove gas from the ground plumbing. During engine start, the fluid then flows to the engines for ignition. Flow into the catch tank is one of several parameters used to determine that the fluid has been properly bled into the system.
After a thorough review of the data and ground system, NASA and SpaceX determined there was a reduced flow back to the ground TEA-TEB catch tank due to a clogged ground filter. This clogged filter fully-explained the signature observed on the launch attempt. SpaceX teams replaced the filter, purged the TEA-TEB line with nitrogen, and verified the lines are clean and ready for launch.
Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron continue to predict a 95% chance of favorable weather conditions for Crew-6 launch, with the flight through precipitation rule serving as the primary weather concern. Conditions along the Dragon ascent corridor are within acceptable limits, but will remain a watch item for Thursday’s attempt.
NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen, mission commander, and Warren Hoburg, pilot, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, who join as mission specialists, will travel to the space station for a science expedition mission. The international crew will fly aboard the Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour, which previously flew NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2, and Axiom Mission 1 astronauts.
After an approximate 24.5-hour transit, the crew will dock to the space-facing port of the microgravity laboratory’s Harmony module about 1:17 a.m. Friday, March 3. Hatch opening is targeted for approximately 3:27 a.m., followed by the welcome ceremony about 3:40 a.m. Arrival coverage on NASA TV and the agency’s website begins Thursday, March 2, at 11:30 p.m.