Dubai: It’s Go UAE! Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi’s space mission has been cleared for launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on the target time and date on Monday, February 27, with the weather also ‘looking great,’ according to NASA and SpaceX officials.
The announcement confirming the launch on the target date came during a Crew-6 mission prelaunch news teleconference this morning from the launch site Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA.
Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial crew programme manager, announced that it had been decided to proceed the launch of Crew-6 mission at 1:45am (EST) - which is 10:45am UAE time - after the Launch Readiness Review.
ISS docking time
“If we launch on time, we will dock [at the ISS] early Tuesday morning 2:38am [11:38am UAE time],” he said.
It was also announced that NASA TV’s live coverage of the Crew-6 mission will begin at 10:15pm EST (7:15am UAE time) with the liftoff scheduled at 1:45am (10:45am UAE time) on Monday.
All ready to go
Zeb Scoville, deputy chief flight director, said the crew spent the day on Saturday doing some routine medical checks and final briefings with the management. “Tomorrow, they will wake up around 9.30 in the morning having some time with family and enjoying a good lunch of butter lemon chicken before getting a little bit of rest and waking up and getting ready to go into space. So the procedures are ready to go, the flight control team is ready to go and the weather is looking great for an early Monday launch,” he added.
Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predicted over 95 per cent chance of favourable weather conditions for the launch, with the cumulus cloud rule serving as the primary weather concern.
“The current probability of violation for any kind of launch commit criteria is really less than five per cent. Just a cumulus cloud, maybe drifting over there all the time, but very unlikely,” said Brian Cizek, launch weather officer, U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron. Launch commit criteria are the criteria which must be met in order for the countdown and launch of a Space Shuttle or other launch vehicles to continue.
Adnan Al Rais, mission manager, UAE Astronaut Mission 2, who took part in the teleconference, highlighted that the Crew-6 mission includes the UAE’s astronaut flying for the first time and it will also be the first long-duration Arab space mission as part of the UAE’s Astronaut Programme.
“We met today with Sultan. He is very excited, ready and grateful for the opportunity to represent the UAE in this mission,” said Al Rais.
“His utiltisation plan has been developed, in cooperation with our colleagues at NASA, an ISIS partner. It includes over 19 scientific experiments, and many STEM activities and live interactions with students.
He also took the opportunity to thank NASA and SpaceX team members “for their great efforts and hard work to successfully complete the Launch Readiness Review for the Crew-6 and progressing us to the very exciting launch phase”, and the team at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) “for the dedication and hard work, supporting all aspects of the mission”.