Axiom Space is a company headquartered in Houston, Texas, which manages missions to the International Space Station (ISS) for private customers. The company is also a space technologies manufacturer that is in the process of developing a next-generation moonwalking spacesuit for NASA Artemis astronauts, and also plans to build its own space station in Low Earth Orbit in the coming years.
Axiom signed a multi-launch agreement with SpaceX in 2021 to launch four crewed missions to the International Space Station (ISS). The first Axiom mission (Ax-1) was launched on April 8, 2022, as previously reported by TESMANIAN. Now, the company is getting ready to launch its second crewed mission (Ax-2) to the ISS, scheduled for May 8th. A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch Ax-2 at 9:53 p.m. Central Time from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida [date is subject to change]. The four-person Ax-2 crew are: Axiom Space’s Director of Human Spaceflight former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who will serve as Ax-2 commander; American motorsports racing driver John Shoffner who will serve as AX-2 pilot; And the other pair are from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia inaugural astronaut class. Saudi astronaut Ali AlQarni will take his first trip to space as a mission specialist during the Ax-2 mission. He will launch to the Space Station alongside the first Saudi Arabian woman to ever travel to space – Rayyanah Barnawi.
ALERT 🚨The #Ax2 mission is targeting no earlier than May 8 at 10:43 pm ET for the launch to the @Space_Station. Launching from @NASAKennedy, our multinational crew will fly on a @SpaceX Dragon to the station for their 12-day space mission. pic.twitter.com/ymW1G8lcDZ— Axiom Space (@Axiom_Space) April 6, 2023
Ms. Barnawi’s space voyage will be historic, it paves the path for more equal rights for women living in the Saudi Arabia kingdom. Historically, the region is known for imposing strict laws upon women. Saudi women had to follow strict guidelines about how to dress publicly for decades and were not allowed to drive cars, nor go to places without a male’s permission and companion. In 2018 the Saudi government changed some laws and finally allowed women to drive legally on the roads. That same year, the Arab Kingdom ended gender segregation in public spaces (like sports arenas, cinemas, gyms, etc.), women were no longer expected to be accompanied by a male everywhere they went, and foreign female travelers were no longer expected to wear headscarves. Now around five years later, the first Saudi Arabian woman will demonstrate that the sky is not the limit for Saudi females when she lifts off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the Space Station next month. “Barnawi has a Master of Biomedical Sciences from Alfaisal University and a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences from Otago University. Barnawi is a research laboratory technician with nine years of experience in breast cancer and cancer stem-cell research,” shared Axiom. She will conduct some science research in microgravity related to her field of study.
“Human spaceflight is a symbol of countries' superiority and global competitiveness in many fields such as technology, engineering, research, and innovation. This mission is also historic as it will make the Kingdom one of the few countries in the world that brings two astronauts of the same nationality aboard the International Space Station simultaneously,” said Saudi Arabia government in a press release.
With determination fueled by passion... We are ready for a space mission for the sake of science and humanity.#Saudi_Towards_Space 🇸🇦— RAYYANAH BARNAWI (@Astro_Rayyanah) April 9, 2023
The Axiom Ax-2 mission astronauts will spend around 10 days working and living at the Space Station where they will conduct scientific research. They are trained to perform over 20 science experiments at the orbiting laboratory. “[...] Data collected in-flight will impact understanding of human physiology on Earth and on-orbit, as well as establish the utility of novel technologies that could be used for future human spaceflight pursuits and humankind on Earth,” said Axiom.
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All Featured Image Source: Axiom Space
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.