SpaceX's Crew-6 astronauts are readying to head home to Earth.
Crew-6 is "an incredible crew to serve with ... it's been a privilege and an honor to spend time on board the International Space Station with them," Crew-6 commander Stephen Bowen of NASA told journalists from the Japanese Kibo module. "I just can't imagine having a better crew."
New colleagues will be rocketing up to join them soon: A fresh foursome of astronauts on SpaceX's Crew-7 mission will launch to the ISS no sooner than 3:50 a.m. EDT (0750 GMT) on Friday (Aug. 25) for a docking expected early Saturday morning (Aug. 26). You can also watch the launch live here at Space.com, via NASA Television.
Earlier this month, fellow Crew-6 member and NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg did another event from Kibo: a video of the airlock on X (formerly Twitter) that allows scientific experiments and cubesats to enter space from the ISS.
The video was part of a six-month series of insider looks at the ISS that Hoburg gave us during brief breaks from science work, spacewalking, maintenance and other space activities. Other recent space videos included Canadarm2 robotics training to capture visiting cargo spacecraft, and monitoring free-flying robots zooming around the ISS.
The silent camera-person behind these videos was Sultan Al Neyadi, the first long-duration flyer from the United Arab Emirates, Hoburg revealed after a Space.com question about the video series.
"I wanted to do something that, I hope, was authentic and in the moment without too much preparation, just showing some of the amazing work that we get to do up here," Hoburg said. "Any time that I had a few extra minutes and thought I was doing something a little bit interesting, I figured I'd pull out a camera and hopefully share it with people."
Crew-6 rocketed to space on March 2 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and docked with the ISS the following day. Crew-6's primary goal was to complete 250 or so experiments. Crew member Andrey Fedyaev, of the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos, said during Wednesday's event that he is sure that science will provide "many useful things for people's future."
Work also went on outdoors. Crew-6 finished three spacewalks, setting a few records in the process. For example, Al Neyadi became the first spacewalking UAE citizen on April 28, working alongside Bowen. "The interaction with the students from all over the world was really amazing, and just spreading the enthusiasm is really amazing," Al Neyadi said of his milestone mission for the UAE.
Bowen also reached his 10th spacewalk (tying him for most by an American, with several other NASA astronauts) after a pair of challenging solar array extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) in June to upgrade ISS power supplies. Bowen is now third in the world for total time spent spacewalking, at 65 hours and 57 minutes.
The crew also welcomed Ax-2, a private mission organized by Houston company Axiom Space and commanded by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, for just over a week in May. Whitson, incidentally, is one of the other career NASA astronauts who has 10 spacewalks; other members of that club include Chris Cassidy, Michael Lopez-Alegria and Bob Behnken.
Crew-6 will be departing soon, but Hoburg paid tribute to a NASA colleague who will stay onboard the ISS for a little while longer. Astronaut Frank Rubio was supposed to come home in March, but his mission was doubled from six months to 12 after a December 2022 leak in his return Soyuz spacecraft, a vehicle called MS-22.
"Frank is just making a huge sacrifice, being away from his family for so long, and I just want to really recognize the service he's given to us for the space station," Hoburg said.
Rubio should be home next month, if all goes to plan. Russia shipped an empty, fresh Soyuz called MS-23 to Rubio and his Roscosmos crewmates (Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin). That new Soyuyz arrived at the ISS on Feb. 25.
While the trio can return home safely at any time, they're awaiting the arrival of Soyuz MS-24 in mid-September or so with their relief crew: NASA astronaut Loral O'Hara and Roscosmos astronauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub.