Private mission with Arab astronauts on board set off for ISS

The Axiom Space Ax-2 private mission was launched on Sunday evening on a SpaceX rocket. On board are two astronauts from Saudi Arabia, an American businessman, and a woman who has spent the most time in space.

The start of the Ax-2 mission. Source: SpaceX 

Start of the Ax-2 mission

On the evening of May 21, a SpaceX rocket was launched from launch pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center. With its help, the second private mission of Axiom Space was launched into space. The first one took place a year ago and was not without incident

This time, three space tourists and the crew commander flew on a new modification of the Dragon spacecraft; it is called Freedom. This flight was the second for it. In the first, it delivered the Crew-4 expedition to the International Space Station. 

45 seconds after launch, the first stage of the rocket separated and made a safe landing. After another 12 minutes, the spacecraft with the astronauts separated from the rocket. Now they are in Earth orbit and are preparing to dock with the ISS, which is scheduled for 03:24 p.m. GMT+3 on Monday.

Who flew to the ISS

Among the four members of the Ax-2 crew, the two representatives of Saudi Arabia received the most attention. The first astronaut from this country flew into space back in 1985. But after him, other citizens of this Arab country have not been in the orbit of our planet. 

The crew of a private mission. Source: AP Photo/John Raoux

The first of the two representatives of Saudi Arabia is Captain Ali AlQarni of the Royal Air Force. The second is Ryan Barnawi. Special attention is focused on her in flight, since she is not only the first female astronaut from this Arab country, but also a qualified research biologist. She is tasked with conducting an experiment in space to grow stem cells, which can potentially be a big step forward in the treatment of many diseases.

The third member of the Ax-2 crew is American businessman John Shaffner. In the mission, he performs the role of the pilot of the spacecraft. For him, this flight will be the embodiment of a lifelong dream. As for the crew commander, she is an employee of Axiom Space and a former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.

Whitson is interesting not only because she is the head of the Axiom Space manned flight program. This flight into space will be fourth for her. Over the previous three, she has spent a total of 665 days and 22 hours in orbit and is now the woman who has spent the most time outside the Earth.

What will astronauts do?

In total, four astronauts will spend eight days on the ISS. They will share them with seven other people who are currently on board, but their research program will be completely independent. It includes, in particular, the observation of their own bodies. Scientists from the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) are very interested in how microgravity will affect the body of people who have undergone much simpler preparation for it than the one that astronauts usually receive. 

In addition, the members of the expedition will conduct about 20 more experiments on the ISS. They cover a wide range of issues — from DNA research and cancer to the formation of clouds that cause rain. In addition, educational programs are provided to help attract people around the world to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics).

According to

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