Ax-2, Axiom Space Corporation’s second commercial mission to the International Space Station, has begun

    Ax-2, Axiom Space Corporation’s second commercial mission to the International Space Station, has begun

    The second time the file starts Quite a private mission to the International Space Station, organized by Axiom Space and SpaceX. Falcon 9 lifted off from Platform 39A at Kennedy Space Center when it was 11:37 p.m. in Italy, while it is scheduled to reach the International Space Station at 3:24 p.m. Italian time on May 22.

    As the name of the mission suggests, Ax-2 is the second launch of four private citizens to the International Space Station. Initially the mission was expected to last about 10 days, but due to complex traffic management to the station, the time on orbit was reduced to 8 days. The first charge of this type, called Ax-1, was made in April last year.

    On board the American Dragon capsule: Peggy Whitson And John ShoffnerAnd two citizens of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Ali Al Qarani And Rayana Bernawi. This is an important mission for the Arab country, as it is the first time that two astronauts have arrived at the International Space Station. In addition, Barnawi became the first Arab woman to become an astronaut.

    To carry the Dragon into orbit, SpaceX used a New launch file, which stipulated the return of the Falcon 9 to the mainland. This never happened with the new Dragon capsules, but only with the previous version, which was not suitable for human transportation.

    The crew and their duties aboard the International Space Station

    like Specifically requested by NASAAmong the crew is a former astronaut for the agency. We are talking about Peggy Whitson, who is currently the US astronaut who has accumulated the most days spent in space and for Ax-2 she holds the role of commander. She first flew aboard the space shuttle in 2002 for the STS-111 mission, before arriving at the International Space Station with Soyuz in 2007 and 2016. The ninth person to have traveled on three different spacecraft.

    Ax-2 mission crew. From left to right: Ali Al-Qarni, Rayana Barnawi, Peggy Whitson and John Shoffner.

    The Dragon driver is John Shoffner, an American businessman and race car driver, who has competed in various races, such as the Nurburgring 24 Hours. The mission specialists are two astronauts from Saudi Arabia, a country that will ascend with the Ax-2 to the International Space Station for the first time. Ali Al-Qarni is a private jet pilot in the Royal Saudi Air Force, and during his stay in orbit he will have the task of carrying out 12 experiments.

    Rayana Barnawi is a biomedical researcher and now the first Saudi female astronaut. She too, like the rest of the Ax-2 crew, will have the task of carrying out various experiments.

    Axiom missions allow various entities to conduct research in conditions of microgravity, which are unlikely to be able to reach the International Space Station. The experiments they will conduct range from studying the human body to using technological demonstrators. Among these devices are also several devices from the same Axiom Space, which are necessary for the development of the Axiom station.

    Return to the landing area for the first stage

    Thanks to the successes achieved with the numerous launches that have been made in recent years, especially those of the Starlink missions, SpaceX has been able to obtain a lot of data about the behavior of the Falcon 9. From the analyzes they noted that the performance of the first stage was allowing it to be re-entered directly on Earth, without compromising the safety of the astronauts.

    Less than 8 minutes after liftoff, the booster successfully landed in Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1). For this mission, they decided to use the new Falcon 9, serial number B1080. Thanks to this success, future missions with Crew Dragons will now also include a return to the LZ-1.

    This would allow SpaceX to recover boosters faster, thus avoiding having to spend several days at sea. Moreover, in this way it will be possible to exploit the two barges to support other launches, allowing the company to maintain a very high pace.

    Ax-2 actually represents Mission No. 33 of 2023a year in which it averaged one launch every 4.02 days.

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