SpaceX launched the Axiom 2 mission on May 21, which will allow four new private astronauts to spend a week around the Earth.
Back to Earth
Used for the second time, the Crew Dragon " Freedom " capsule from SpaceX - the same one that served between April and October 2022 on the Crew 4 mission, which included Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti - was shipped to the International Space Station on May 21 at 21:37 UTC.
The departure was from the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida.
For the first time after a manned Falcon 9 mission, the launch vehicle's first stage returned to land at Cape Canaveral Military Base.
Docking to the ISS occurred May 22 at 1:12 p.m.
This is the second private stay organized aboard the orbiting complex by the Texas-based company Axiom, after the Axiom 1 mission which took place between April 8 and 25 2022.
The Axiom 2 mission crew is commanded by former U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson (63 years old and... nearly 666 days of microgravity, accumulated in three space flights), and hosts three paying passengers, all of whom are neophytes : American businessman and race car driver John Shoffner (67 years old), Saudi fighter pilot Ali Al-Qarni (31 years old) and Saudi laboratory research technician Rayyanah Barnawi (34 years old).
While John Shoffner offered himself as a pilot, the seats for the two Saudis are funded by the Saudi Arabian government.
First Arab female in Space
First Saudis to stay aboard the ISS (where they were reunited with Sultan Al Neyadi, the second astronaut from the United Arab Emirates, among others), Ali Al-Qarni and Rayyanah Barnawi succeed Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman, who in June 1985 was the first Arab in space, during the Discovery / STS-51G mission (alongside, among others, the French Patrick Baudry).
Rayyanah Barnawi for her part became the first female representative of the Arab world to stay in space.
More than 20 experiments
During their mission, which is expected to last a week (instead of 10 days at the start), the four crew members are expected to perform 21 scientific and technical experiments, in particular on stem cells and breast cancer, a field Rayyanah Barnawi has been working on for almost a decade.
Also on the agenda will be educational activities with students on the ground.
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