CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A new crew arrived at the International Space Station on Friday for a six-month mission, after overcoming a problem with one of the capsule’s docking hooks.
The SpaceX capsule and its four astronauts had to wait 65 feet (20 meters) from the orbiting lab, while flight controllers in California scrambled to come up with a software fix.
This is the same problem that arose shortly after Thursday’s removal. Although all 12 hooks in the capsule seem fine, the switch for one of them is malfunctioning. SpaceX Mission Control urged patience, telling the astronauts they could stay in this containment pattern for up to two hours.
“Teams are working to get it right, just not fast,” Mission Control radioed.
A few minutes later, the new software commands were relayed, and the astronauts received the go-ahead to continue the final approach and docking. In the end, the linkup happened an hour late as the capsule and space station rose 260 miles (420 kilometers) above the coast of Somalia.
It is expected to take an hour before the hatches open, the usual time for proper pressure.
“Now we’re going to try to open this hatch so you can hug your crew,” said NASA Mission Control from Houston.
Newcomers include Sultan al-Neyadi of the United Arab Emirates, the first astronaut from the Arab world to spend a long time in space. Al-Neyadi is only the second person from the UAE to rocket into orbit.
Also flying in the capsule: NASA’s Stephen Bowen, a retired Navy submariner who made three space shuttle trips, and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, a space novice and former research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology , and Andrei Fedyaev, a space rookie retired from the Russian Air Force.
SpaceX launched four astronauts for NASA early Thursday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Their flight was delayed for several days due to a clogged filter in the ignition fluid line.
The UAE sent its first astronaut, Hazza al-Mansoori, to the space station in 2019 aboard a Russian rocket. It has been decades since the first Arab was launched in 1985 during NASA’s space shuttle. The longest spaceflight of any of them was about a week.
“I am at a loss for words to express how happy I am” for al-Neyadi, al-Mansoori tweeted after the launch.
The new arrivals will replace two NASA astronauts, a Japanese astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut who have been there since October and will return to their own SpaceX capsule next week.
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