Axiom Space’s private astronauts headed to ISS with 1st Saudi woman

Washington, May 22 (IANS) American private space habitat company Axiom Space’s has successfully launched its second mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with the first woman from Saudi Arabia.

The Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) lifted off at 5:37 p.m. EDT on Sunday (3:07 a.m. Monday IST) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The Ax-2 mission is the first commercial human spaceflight mission to include both private astronauts and astronauts representing foreign governments, as well as the first private mission commanded by a female.

Axiom Space’s Director of Human Spaceflight Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut and ISS commander, will lead the mission, and aviator John Shoffner will serve as pilot.

The two mission specialists are Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi from Saudi Arabia.

“Congratulations to Axiom, SpaceX, and the Axiom Mission 2 crew on a successful launch! During their time aboard the International Space Station, the Ax-2 astronauts will carry out more than 20 scientific experiments, helping us better understand space radiation, weather in low-gravity conditions, and more,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“This mission is more proof of NASA’s commitment to help our industry partners develop the next generation of space technology and support a growing commercial space economy,”he added.

After docking, the astronauts plan to spend their time aboard the orbiting laboratory implementing a full mission consisting of science, outreach, and commercial activities.

The multinational astronaut crew of Ax-2 will conduct more than 20 different experiments while aboard the space station.

Data collected in-flight will impact understanding of human physiology on Earth and on-orbit, as well as establish the utility of novel technologies that could be used for future human spaceflight pursuits and humankind on Earth.

Axiom Space is also facilitating exciting and impactful scientific research and in-space manufacturing via its space missions, and on Axiom Station in the future, to help expand knowledge to benefit life on Earth in areas such as healthcare, materials, technology development, and enable industrial advances.

Axiom Space astronauts are expected to depart the space station May 30, pending weather, for a return to Earth and splashdown at a landing site off the coast of Florida.