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Posted by on 04 Sep 2023 in Space News

SpaceX Crew-6 Splashdown Safely

SpaceX Crew-6 Splashdown

An infrared image of the SpaceX Crew Dragon carrying the
NASA SpaceX Crew-6 under parachutes prior to splashdown.
Image courtesy: NASA

A crew consisting of NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, returned from the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour, September 3.

The arrival ended a mission which began on March 2, 2023, some six months earlier. The Crew-6 designation refers to the flight being the sixth crew rotation mission performed by SpaceX for NASA to the ISS, but it is the seventh flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft under NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Crew-7 launched to the orbiting space outpost in August 2023, docking on the 27th.

Crew of NASA Crew-6 aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon

L-R: Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, NASA astronaut Warren "Woody" Hoburg, NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen, UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, inside the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft aboard SpaceX recovery ship MEGAN after splashdown off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, September 4, 2023.
Image courtesy: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA says the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour previously flew NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, NASA's SpaceX Crew-2, and the Axiom Mission-1 astronauts. Between missions refurbishment and servicing includes installing a new heat shield, nosecone, trunk, and Draco rocket engines, according to the space agency.

A new Crew Dragon spacecraft is under construction which SpaceX says will fly sometime in 2024. Crew Dragon spacecraft, subject to inspection, are expected to fly at least five missions, but SpaceX has stated its goal is to fly each vehicle at least fifteen times before retirement.

All Crew Dragon spacecraft are launched atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, which is also re-used for crewed and un-crewed missions.

Boeing is also a contractor on the NASA Commercial Crew Program. The company's Starliner was expected to arrive at the ISS while Crew-6 was on orbit to perform a required Crew Flight Test on the way to obtaining certification by NASA to carry out further crewed missions. Issues with valves and the parachute system resulted in the postponement of that flight until at least 2024.


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