Megan Hayes | News Editor
On Monday, February 27th of 2023, SpaceX’s Crew-6 is planning to launch the Falcon 9 rocket out of the Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida – a mission to send up a spacecraft called Crew Dragon Endeavor as well as four crew members to the International Space Station. Crew-6 is going to be the sixth flight of the NASA Commercial Crew Dragon Spacecraft, a reusable spacecraft with a space capsule and a trunk module, all which rests on top of a Falcon 9 Block 5 Rocket. Crew Dragon is typically used for trips to the International Space Station through NASA, but also has been used for private missions, like Axiom Mission 1 and Inspiration 4, both which were achieved through SpaceX. The ability for the design and structure to be reused and sent into space several times for crewed missions, whether for commercial or government means, is a huge advancement in terms of space exploration.
Having a design that can accomplish all the necessary requirements and provide safety to the crew is ideal, but having a replicable design that can withstand challenges and has proved it directly by previous missions is revolutionary. The crew will be around six months long with travel included on the International Space Station, during which the astronauts aboard will be answering “burning questions” relating to the study of combustion and microgravity. Alongside these two elements, they will also be studying thr further effects on space travel on the human body. This study will center around high-speed transportation’s effects on the human immune system and organs and will provide more insight for future missions to ensure health and safety of the astronauts. This will be measured by The European Space Agency (ESA)’s Immunity Assay, which is a method of studying that gives a functional immune test to the astronauts to see directly how flight effects the cellular immune functions in different parts of the body.
Falcon 9, the rocket from which the Crew Dragon spacecraft will be launching, stands at an impressive 229.6 feet tall. According to SpaceX via Space.com, “It cost over $300 million to develop the vehicle. NASA was a huge player in providing funding during the company's early years...SpaceX received one of NASA's sought-after commercial orbital transportation services contracts (COTS), which was initially worth up to $278 million for SpaceX provided it met all its milestones. SpaceX continues to run cargo missions to the ISS under subsequent COTS contracts.” SpaceX and NASA are working together on this launch, which you can stay up to date on by following SpaceX and NASA on Twitter. Pre-testing and test-firing has been completed and the rocket has been wheeled out to the launchpad, and will be launching from Pad 39A of the KSC around 1:45am ET on February 27th.