SpaceX's Crew-6 overcomes faulty sensor to safely dock with ISS

The docking procedure was delayed momentarily, with the Crew Dragon Endeavour soaring near the ISS at 17,500 mph.
Chris Young
NASA's Crew Dragon capsule approaching the ISS.
NASA's Crew Dragon capsule approaching the ISS.

SpaceX / Twitter 

SpaceX has done it again.

The private space firm's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule, carrying NASA's Crew-6 crew, arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS) after a delay caused by a faulty sensor, a Reuters report reveals.

The mission, which launched minutes after midnight on March 2 from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, lifted two U.S. astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut, and a United Arab Emirates astronaut on a science mission due to last six months.

The Crew-6 mission docked with the ISS at 1:40 am EST (0640 GMT) today, March 3, roughly 25 hours after liftoff.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour successfully docks with ISS

The Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule used for the Crew-6 mission was flying alongside the ISS at approximately 17,500 miles per hour (28,164 kph) and at an altitude of roughly 250 miles (420km) just before the docking procedure. A live NASA webcast of the docking revealed that the ISS was flying over East Africa then.

Shortly before the docking, SpaceX ground control teams paused the procedure for 23 minutes, with the capsule soaring 65 feet (20 meters) from the ISS, due to a technical issue. During that time, they had to verify that all 12 latching hooks used to secure the capsule were properly deployed, as a faulty sensor on the ISS's docking system showed there may be a possible malfunction. Thankfully, all went according to plan after ground teams resolved the issue with a software override.

The crew is now aboard the orbital station, with Crew Dragon Endeavour having undergone leak checks and the passageway between the capsule and the ISS having been pressurized over about two hours.

Crew-6 mission to last roughly half a year

The Crew-6 crew will now face a busy schedule over the next six months. During that time, they will conduct more than 200 experiments and technology demonstrations, ranging from studies on combustible materials in space and analyses of human cell growth in microgravity.

The Crew-6 mission will last roughly half a year, though this is subject to change related to weather conditions on the ground or operations within the ISS. Recently, for example, a leak on a Russian Soyuz rocket attached to the ISS caused a set of the space station's crew to extend their stay.

The Crew-6 mission is the sixth long-duration crew mission that SpaceX has flown for NASA and its eighth crewed mission to the space station overall, including the Demo-2 test flight in May 2020 and the space tourist Ax-1 flight.

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