SpaceX test-fires rocket ahead of Crew-6 astronaut launch for NASA (photos)

rocket at right firing its engines with smoke pouring at left. the image is taken at night
SpaceX performs a static fire of its Falcon 9 rocket Feb. 24, 2023 ahead of the Crew-6 launch. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

SpaceX's rocket test-fired the rocket for its next astronaut launch early Friday (Feb. 24)  in a dress rehearsal to send a new crew into space next week.

A Falcon 9 rocket performed a static fire for SpaceX on Friday (Feb. 24) with its Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule on top. The dress rehearsal was one of the last milestones before SpaceX launches four astronauts on the Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station on Monday (Feb. 27). Liftoff is scheduled for 1:45 a.m. EST (0645 GMT) and you'll be able to watch it live on

"While standing on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, the rocket's nine Merlin first-stage engines roared to life for seven seconds, completing the routine but critical integrated static fire test," NASA officials wrote of the successful test in a blog post.

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SpaceX's Crew-6 mission will launch NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg to the International Space Station alongside Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos and United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Al-Neyadi.

The Crew Dragon used for this mission is Endeavour, making its fourth flight after SpaceX's Demo-2 crew test flight in 2020, Crew-2 flight in 2021 and the private Axiom Mission-1 in 2022.

Crew-6 will be SpaceX's seventh crewed mission for NASA (including the Demo-2 demonstration flight) under the agency's commercial crew program, and the ninth time it sent humans to space.

Meanwhile, Roscosmos launched an empty Soyuz MS-23 capsule successfully on Thursday (Feb. 23) to replace the damaged Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft that suffered a coolant leak in December.

MS-23 should dock with the space station on Saturday, providing a ride home for NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin; their nominal return home has been postponed six months to September to make room for another crew to relieve them. 

Four other astronauts on the ISS have another SpaceX Crew Dragon at hand; in case of emergency, Rubio could squeeze in there while Prokopyev and Petelin would be able to ride the damaged MS-22 back home.

SpaceX is considering a launch of another Falcon 9 rocket with Starlink internet satellites Sunday, Feb. 26 1:12 p.m. EST (1812 GMT), but that may push to make priority for Crew-6.

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: