SpaceX successfully sets off multi-space agency Crew-7 to the ISS

Four astronauts from four countries are on the ISS for the SpaceX Crew-7 mission.
Rizwan Choudhury
N/AA SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7.
N/AA SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7.

Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky 

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched four astronauts from different space agencies to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, after a one-day delay due to a technical issue with the spacecraft’s life support system.

As per NASA, the rocket lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:27 am Eastern Time (1:57 pm IST) carrying the Crew Dragon capsule named Endurance, which separated from the rocket’s upper stage about 12 minutes later.

Endurance is expected to dock with the ISS at 8:39 am Eastern Time (7:09 pm IST) on Saturday, where the crew will join the existing Expedition 66 team for a six-month stay.


The mission, called Crew-7, is the first commercial crew flight to have representatives from four different space agencies: NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

The crew consists of NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, who is the commander of the mission and making her debut in space; ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, who is the pilot and has flown to space once before on a Soyuz spacecraft in 2015; JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, who is a mission specialist and has spent six months on the ISS in 2011; and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, who is also a mission specialist and on his first spaceflight.

“Crew-7 is a shining example of the power of both American ingenuity and what we can accomplish when we work together,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Aboard the station, the crew will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations to prepare for missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, all while benefiting humanity on Earth. By partnering with countries around the world, NASA is engaging the best scientific minds to enable our bold missions, and it’s clear that we can do more – and we can learn more – when we work together.”

NASA said that the crew selection was based on the timing of the integrated crew agreement with Roscosmos and that it was a “big deal” to have a non-NASA astronaut as a Crew Dragon pilot for the first time.

Launch delays

The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday but was postponed after engineers detected a problem with a component of the Crew Dragon’s life support system, known as ECLSS. NASA said that SpaceX decided to review all valves on the spacecraft, including those for propulsion and air supply, after finding corrosion in some valves of a cargo Dragon in June.

The review took longer than expected and led to a 24-hour delay. NASA said that the valves were working properly and required no changes.

Another issue arose during the launch countdown, when sensors detected trace amounts of nitrogen tetroxide (NTO), a toxic propellant used by the spacecraft’s thrusters, near the capsule. SpaceX said that the levels of NTO were very low and within normal range and that there was no leak. The issue was cleared just two minutes before liftoff.

The number of crew aboard the space station will increase to 11 until Crew-6 members Stephen Bowen, Woody Hoburg, Sultan Alneyadi, and Andrey Fedyaev return to Earth a few days later. Joel Montalbano, NASA ISS program manager, said at the post-launch briefing that there will be a five-day handover period between Crew-6 and Crew-7 before Crew-6 departs on the Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour. However, he added that the timing may change depending on the weather conditions at the splashdown sites off the Florida coast, which could be affected by a tropical storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico in the next few days. 

The departure of Crew-7 will pave the way for the launch of Crew-8, which will take place in early 2024 with three NASA astronauts and one Roscosmos cosmonaut.

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