Axiom Space's daring mission to the International Space Station (ISS) lifted off on May 21st. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched at 5:37 p.m. ET. propelling the Crew Dragon ‘Freedom’ spacecraft to orbit with Axiom’s private astronauts. Axiom Space’s Director of Human Spaceflight Peggy Whitson, who has extensive experience as a former NASA astronaut, is commanding three new space flyers: American motorsports racing driver John Shoffner; Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, both astronauts selected by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Space Commission. This mission is particularly historic because it carries Saudi Arabia’s first female astronaut. Read more: A Giant Leap for Equality. The crew provided a message from orbit before arriving to the ISS, video linked below.
The four @Axiom_Space private astronauts are approaching the station aboard the @SpaceX Dragon crew ship for a planned 9:10am ET docking today. Watch... https://t.co/yuOTrYN8CV pic.twitter.com/Wgk6k9Txyj— International Space Station (@Space_Station) May 22, 2023
After a 15 hours and 35 minutes-long voyage, the Ax-1 crew arrived at the Space Station and performed an autonomous docking operation at 9:12 a.m. ET on May 22nd. The Dragon spacecraft's hatch swung open at 11:00 a.m. ET, marking the triumphant arrival of the Ax-2 crew. This commercial mission is only the second of its kind with a fully-private crew. SpaceX said their arrival marked the fastest trip for a crewed flight, previous Crew Dragon trips have taken over 24 hours.
Welcome aboard the @Space_Station #Ax2 crew!— Axiom Space (@Axiom_Space) May 22, 2023
They celebrated the moment with a welcome ceremony. The Ax-2 crew members were pinned with the Universal Astronaut Insignia which represents all space travelers. pic.twitter.com/qfC2NDkFbv
Upon arrival, the Axiom Ax-2 crew was welcomed by members of Expedition 69. Among them are: NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Woody Hoburg, and Stephen Bowen, as well as United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alneyadi. Roscosmos cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin, Andrey Fedyaev, and Sergey Prokopyev are also working at the ISS laboratory. The Ax-2 will only be at the Space Station for 8 days. They will enjoy breathtaking views of planet Earth from orbit and perform 20 science experiments in zero gravity. Barring any unforeseen weather conditions, the Axiom Space astronauts are scheduled to depart the Space Station on May 30. Their return to Earth will involve Crew Dragon Freedom splashing down in the ocean just off the coast of Florida.
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All Featured Images Source: NASA / Axiom Mission Broadcast / SpaceX
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.