ISS turns out to be crowded with astronauts

On Monday, four more people arrived at the International Space Station (ISS). Therefore, now the orbital outpost has become crowded. Astronauts of Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), Peggy Whitson, John Shoffner, Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, traveling aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, docked with the ISS after launching on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

Cupola module, view from outside the ISS. Photo: Wikipedia

A few hours after docking, the crew members of NASA’s second-ever private mission boarded the ISS, expanding the number of crew members to 11 people. Over the next eight days, five Americans, three Russians, two Saudis and one Emirati will live and work side by side with each other in microgravity. 

The crew of Axiom Mission 2 from left to right: Mission Specialist Ali Alqarni, Mission Specialist Rayyanah Barnawi, Commander Peggy Whitson and pilot John Shoffner. Photo: Axiom Space

Although the ISS usually operates with a crew of six or seven people, sometimes the number of crew increases to 11 people during the replacement or, as in this case, due to visits by private crews funded from private sources. The largest number of astronauts that the station has ever received – 13 – falls on the Space Shuttle era. 

Although the conditions may seem cramped to some observers, in fact the ISS is a fairly spacious object with many modules where the inhabitants can work, relax and have fun. There is enough space for everyone here. NASA describes this object, which orbits at an altitude of 400 km above the Earth, as “a space house with six bedrooms, three bathrooms, a gym and a panoramic room with 360-degree view”.

The current fully private Ax-2 mission, the second of its kind after the first in 2022, is the result of joint efforts by NASA, SpaceX and Axiom Space. New private missions are opening up space to more people, as well as helping NASA finance the upkeep and operation of the ISS until its decommissioning, which is now scheduled for 2031.

Earlier we reported on how Axiom Space showed a spacesuit for the Artemis III mission.

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