The astronauts from the Ax-2 flight safely returned to Earth, thus completing a ten-day research mission. They spent a total of eight days on the International Space Station (ISS). Four people took part in this second-ever private mission, including the first Saudi female astronaut.
The Ax-2 crew landed safely on Tuesday evening local time in Florida. The Dragon capsule with the astronauts fell into the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Panama City. The return flight took about 12 hours. It was the second ever private mission organized by Houston-based company Axiom.
– It was a phenomenal trip, we enjoyed it very much – said American astronaut Peggy Whitson, who took part in the mission, shortly after landing.
10 days of mission
The Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule, manufactured by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, took off from the Kennedy Space Center Kennedy at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday, May 21 at 17.40 local time (at that time it was 23.40 in Poland). The main spacecraft, named Freedom, separated from the rocket’s upper stage after about 12 minutes of flight.
The four astronauts arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, May 22, around 10:00 am. 15.24. The mission lasted a total of 10 days, and the crew spent eight days aboard the ISS itself.
The mission was designated Ax-2, and its private participants paid several million dollars for the flight and stay on the ISS.
Axiom 2 mission crew
The Axiom 2 crew was led by 63-year-old retired American astronaut Peggy Whitson, who spent space 665 days. She has participated in 10 spacewalks. He currently serves as director of spaceflight at Axiom. American businessman John Shoffner also took part in the mission.
The crew was completed by two Saudi Arabian astronauts – 31-year-old Ali Al-Qarni, a fighter pilot, and 34-year-old Rayana Barnawi, a cancer stem cell researcher. Barnawi is the first Saudi female astronaut to go into space. At the press conference before the start, she said that “this is a great honor and honor for her”.
The first Saudi in space was Prince Sultan bin Salman, who in 1985 took part in the American orbital mission.
Main photo source: ENEX