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A new crew from the United States, Russia and the United Arab Emirates arrives at the space station


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — A new crew arrived at the International Space Station on Friday for a six-month mission, after overcoming problems with one of the capsule’s docking hooks.

The SpaceX capsule and its four astronauts had to wait 20 meters from the orbiting lab, as flight controllers in California scrambled to find a software fix.

This is the same problem that arose shortly after takeoff on Thursday. Although all 12 hooks on the pod seemed to work fine, the switch on one of them malfunctioned. SpaceX Mission Control urged patience, telling American, Russian and Emerati astronauts they could stay in this holding pattern for up to two hours.

Once the new software commands were relayed, the astronauts were given the green light to continue. Ultimately, the linkup occurred an hour late as the capsule and space station soared 260 miles (420 kilometers) above the Somali coast.

“After a brief scenic detour, welcome to the International Space Station,” SpaceX Mission Control said over the radio. NASA officials agreed that the delay added to the anticipation.

Among the new arrivals is Sultan al-Neyadi of the United Arab Emirates, the first astronaut from the Arab world to spend an extended time in space. Al-Neyadi is only the second person from the United Arab Emirates to launch into orbit.

“I can’t be happier than this, seeing old friends in space, coming together as one big family. That’s the essence of space exploration,” al-Neyadi said as he entered the station. “The United Arab Emirates is taking a big step to push the boundaries of exploration.”

Also flying in the capsule are NASA’s Stephen Bowen, a retired Navy submariner who has completed three space shuttle flights, and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, a space rookie and former researcher at the Massachusetts Institute. of Technology, and Andrei Fedyaev, a space rookie who is retired from the Russian Air Force.

SpaceX launched the four NASA astronauts early Thursday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Their flight was delayed for a few days by a clogged filter in a spark fluid line.

The United Arab Emirates sent its first astronaut, Hazzaa al-Mansoori, to the space station in 2019 aboard a Russian rocket. It had been decades since the first Arab was launched in 1985 during the NASA shuttle era. The longest spaceflight of one of them lasted about a week.

A UAE space official, Hamad al-Mansoori, called the station from Dubai to wish el-Nayadi and his crew a safe and successful mission and said it was “an important milestone”.

The space station will accommodate 11 people next week.

The newcomers will replace two NASA astronauts, a Japanese astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut who have been on the station since October and will return in their own SpaceX capsule next week. Two other Russians and an American traveled to the station in September aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule that had to be replaced due to a leak, pushing their mission back a full year.


This story corrects an earlier version that UAE astronaut Hazzaa al-Mansoori called the space station. The caller was Hamad al-Mansoori, head of space for the United Arab Emirates.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science and Education Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.