On May 21st, Axiom Space second crew (Ax-2) embarked on a daring mission to the International Space Station (ISS), marking a significant milestone in commercial spaceflight. The journey commenced with the successful launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at 5:37 p.m. ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. With great power, the rocket propelled Axiom's private astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon 'Freedom' spacecraft into orbit.
Leading this groundbreaking mission is Axiom Space's Director of Human Spaceflight, Peggy Whitson. With her vast experience as a former NASA astronaut, she assumes the role of commander, guiding three exceptional individuals on this extraordinary adventure. Among them is John Shoffner, an accomplished American motorsports racing driver, along with Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, both selected as astronauts by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Space Commission. This mission holds immense historical significance as it carries Saudi Arabia's first female astronaut, marking a significant step forward for gender inclusivity in the Arab World. The inclusion of Rayyanah Barnawi in this pioneering journey represents a momentous achievement and inspires a new generation of aspiring female astronauts.
The crew spent around 8 days performing 20 scientific experiments at the Space Station and enjoyed magnificent views of planet Earth. Today, May 30, the SpaceX Dragon Freedom autonomously undocked from the space-facing port of the ISS Harmony module at 11:05 a.m. EDT carrying the Ax-2 crew. With careful precision, Dragon performed a slow maneuver away from the orbital laboratory. Its orbital track has been meticulously planned to ensure a safe return journey for both the astronaut crew and the valuable cargo they carry. Their voyage to Earth will last around 12 hours. The targeted splashdown off the coast of Panama City, Florida, is set for approximately 11:04 p.m. EDT tonight. SpaceX will livestream their return starting 1-hour prior to splashdown –Watch It Live in the video linked below.
Mission Control teams are monitoring weather at the splashdown site to ensure conditions are acceptable for a safe recovery of the spacecraft with the Ax-2 astronauts. Crew Dragon Freedom is carrying over 300 pounds of cargo, including the results of scientific experiments by NASA astronauts, as well as hardware and supplies that are no longer needed at the ISS Lab. UPDATE: Dragon successfully splashed down!
VIDEO: SpaceX Axiom Ax-2 Crew Dragon Splashdown Livestream
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Featured Image Source: NASA
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.