SpaceX delivers private Axiom crew to the space station, carrying Saudi astronauts

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule “Freedom” is seen docked with the International Space Station on May 22, 2023.


SpaceX delivered one other quartet of astronauts to the International Space Station on Monday morning, on a private flight that included authorities astronauts from Saudi Arabia as the Arab kingdom leverages U.S. corporations to expands its ambitions in space. 

Axiom Space booked the roughly week-long journey, referred to as the Ax-2 mission, to the ISS with Elon Musk’s firm. SpaceX launched the 4 individuals on Sunday night from Florida. Its Falcon 9 rocket launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and the firm’s Crew Dragon capsule “Freedom” reaching the ISS about 16 hours later.

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – MAY 21: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center for the Axiom Space Mission 2 (Ax-2) on May 21, 2023 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The four-person private astronaut Ax-2 crew, which can spend eight days on the International Space Station, contains former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, pilot John Shoffner, and Saudi Space Commission astronauts Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Saudi lady to fly to space. (Photo by Paul Hennesy/Anadolu Agency by way of Getty Images)

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ax-2 is commanded by retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson – who has spent more time in space than any other American or woman – and piloted by businessman and auto racer John Shoffner, who bought a seat on the flight by way of Axiom. Whitson can also be Axiom’s director of human spaceflight.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia purchased the last two seats on Axiom’s mission, with Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali al-Qarni flying as mission specialists. Barnawi is the first Saudi lady to fly in space.

The mission will characteristic a busy slate of analysis and know-how experiments, with over 20 totally different science investigations.

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For SpaceX, the Ax-2 mission is the firm’s tenth human spaceflight. The firm has flown seven government-booked crew missions and three private flights since launching astronauts for the first time in May 2020.

The mission featured the first time SpaceX returned a Falcon 9 booster to land again close to the launch web site, somewhat than on a ship in the ocean, after a crew launch. The firm continues to increase the technical capabilities of its fleet.

This was additionally the second launch for the firm’s reusable “Freedom” capsule, which beforehand carried NASA’s Crew-4 mission on a six-month mission to and from the ISS.

Axiom and SpaceX haven’t disclosed monetary particulars about the Ax-2 mission. NASA has beforehand disclosed {that a} SpaceX crew launch prices about $55 million per seat, so the value for these private missions is predicted to be excessive. Axiom has booked four crewed flights from SpaceX to date.

Although SpaceX is offering the rocket and capsule, Axiom is main the mission’s administration from coaching to the return to Earth.

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