A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch to the International Space Station (ISS) was postponed on Monday, with officials citing problems with ground systems, which they are investigating.
The SpaceX Dragon Crew-6 mission was scheduled to depart the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying UAE’s astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, two NASA astronauts – Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, and a Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.
But just two minutes before lift-off, the launch was called off, or “scrubbed”.
“Today’s #Crew6 launch has been scrubbed due to an issue with ground systems,” NASA posted on Twitter.
SpaceX said shortly after that it had begun unloading fuel from the rocket and the crew would disembark.
The launch is now provisionally scheduled for 9.34am UAE time on Thursday.
Sultan al-Neyadi was to spend six months on the orbiting station.
Neyadi, 41, will be the fourth astronaut from an Arab country and the second from the UAE to journey to space; his compatriot Hazzaa al-Mansoori flew an eight-day mission in 2019. Neyadi described the upcoming mission as a “great honor.”
An hour before the lift-off, Al Neyadi tweeted: “On this planet, I leave behind everyone I love and take off to space… I leave behind a country that has forged its way to stars and lit its path with Zayed’s ambition.”
President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan spoke to the Emirati astronaut on the eve of his history-making journey to the International Space Station.
“Everyone is excited and waiting for this historic moment, your Highness,” Al Neyadi told the President in a video conversation shared by news agency Wam.
“As science continues to progress and develop, God willing, the UAE will leave an important mark on this mission.”
Sheikh Mohamed said: “May God protect you wherever you may be, and may you return safe and sound. We are looking forward to your return.”
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, spoke of the nation’s pride in a message on Twitter.
“Inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed’s vision, Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi is set to embark on a 6-month mission to the International Space Station,’ tweeted Sheikh Hamdan
“We are proud of Sultan, MBRSC [the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre], and everyone who aspires to achieve the best for the UAE.”
Messages of support have been pouring in from across the Emirates.
Burj Khalifa lit up on Sunday night ahead of the launch today. The landmark paid tribute to Al Neyadi’s “out of this world” adventure.
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