Axiom Space has successfully launched its second private astronaut mission, Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on May 21. The mission saw four private astronauts sent to orbit aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, marking another significant milestone for private space travel.
The Ax-2 crew, comprising of Commander Peggy Whitson, Pilot John Shoffner, and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, were propelled into orbit on board SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The mission’s primary objective is to carry out a series of over 20 scientific experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) before making their return journey to Earth on May 30.
“Today we applaud Axiom, SpaceX, and the Axiom Mission 2 crew for their successful launch!” exclaimed NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The Ax-2 astronauts will perform over 20 scientific experiments during their stay at the International Space Station, helping to expand our knowledge of space radiation and weather in low-gravity conditions, among others. This mission underscores NASA’s commitment to collaborating with industry partners to develop next-generation space technologies and bolster a thriving commercial space economy.”
NASA plans to broadcast live coverage of the SpaceX Dragon’s docking, hatch opening, and the welcoming ceremony of the crew on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website from 7:30 a.m. on Monday, May 22. The autonomous docking of the SpaceX Dragon to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module is anticipated to happen around 9:16 a.m. on Monday, with the hatch opening expected about 11:13 a.m.
Upon their arrival at the station, the Ax-2 crew will be greeted by Expedition 69 crew members, including NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Stephen Bowen, and Woody Hoburg, UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin, Sergey Prokopyev, and Andrey Fedyaev.
Axiom Space’s astronauts are slated to bid farewell to the space station on May 30, weather permitting. The crew is scheduled to return to Earth, splashing down off the coast of Florida, marking the successful completion of this landmark private space mission.
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