Axiom-2, SpaceX’s second private space mission to the International Space Station for Axiom Space and NASA, is scheduled to launch this weekend aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule.
During Monday’s lengthy flight readiness review, the heads of the three companies met to ensure the aircraft’s equipment, four-man crew, and launch and landing sites were ready to support the 10-day mission. Liftoff from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center is set for Sunday, May 21 at 5:37 p.m. EDT.
“Today we had a review where we brought together board members from Axiom Space, SpaceX, and NASA to talk about the upcoming mission, and at the end of that review, the entire team voted ‘Go,’” Ken Powersachs, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations, said during a press conference Monday. .
A weather report from the Space Force is expected for the launch on Thursday or Friday.
Meet the Axiom 2 crew:Two Saudi astronauts are set to travel with SpaceX on the next private space mission to the International Space Station
SpaceX Falcon 9 launch:More Starlink satellites entered orbit last week
What do you know about the Axiom 2 mission?
Former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Axiom 2 commander and private space shuttle attache John Shoffner, and government-sponsored Saudi astronauts Ali Al-Qarni and Rayana Barnawi. The mission is under a contract between NASA and Houston-based Axiom Space.
“The Dragon vehicle is completed in a waiting hangar to be attached to a (Falcon 9) rocket, the rocket is ready to fly, (and) the platform is ready,” said William Gerstenmaier, Vice President of Flight Reliability at SpaceX. “Friday we have a dry suit and a steady fire. We have the crew fully trained, ready to take the Dragon capsule to the station, and now they’re ready to come back to Earth.”
Spectators can expect a sonic boom minutes after liftoff as SpaceX, with a crewed mission for the first time, aims to land the booster rocket in Landing Area 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. For previous human spaceflights, SpaceX has landed its boosters on a drone docked in the Atlantic Ocean.
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“Before we had that kind of capability we weren’t sure we’d ever get the performance, but the number of Falcons that flew allowed us to say the performance was there and it could be used,” Gerstenmaier said. “It will be consistent as each team progresses, and that is our plan.”
After launch, the four-person crew will spend about a day in orbit, load up on the International Space Station, and spend eight days experiencing what it’s like to work and live in orbit. Then they return to land in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.
While in orbit, the multinational team will conduct up to 20 experiments and technology demonstrations, with a heavy focus on education. According to the Axiom report, this includes “a student art competition from space, educational tools, and participation in student-led projects with universities like MIT.”
When is the opportunity to start docking and backup?
If the Falcon 9 launches on Sunday, the Crew Dragon should arrive at the International Space Station at 9:30 AM EST on Monday, May 22nd.
“We’re looking forward to May 21st, and if it doesn’t (launch) by the 22nd, we’ll stop and focus on the Axiom-2 program,” said Joel Montalbano, NASA’s International Space Station program manager. 28 mission,” SpaceX’s next cargo station resupply mission on June 3 scheduled to fly from KSC before Saturday.
If teams stop this weekend, future launches of the Axiom-2 mission should be scheduled to fit the station’s busy summer, including the first manned flight demonstration of the Boeing Starliner capsule in July and NASA’s Crew-7 mission with SpaceX later.
Meet the private astronauts of Axiom-2
Whitson is the first woman to pilot a private space shuttle and the only member of the four-person crew with prior spaceflight experience. He is a veteran of spaceflight and, at 665 days, holds the record for the most time spent in space by any American astronaut. Collected during three long-duration missions with NASA.
“Space is really changing right now, and I’m really excited to be a part of expanding humanity’s reach to this amazing frontier,” Whitson said at a pre-launch press conference last month. “I feel very fortunate to have a very talented staff that not only meets the training requirements for this job, but goes above and beyond.”
After retiring from NASA in 2018, he joined Axiom Space as Director of Human Spaceflight. To prepare for special missions to space, he trained as a standby commander for the Axiom-1 mission, which launched last year and was led by Axiom’s Vice President of Business Development and Chief Astronaut. Michael Lopez-Alegria. He is also a former NASA astronaut.
John Shoffner is the only private spaceflight participant to have paid for a seat on the Axiom-2 mission. He is an entrepreneur, pilot, and STEM advocate who was born in Alaska and currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is a veteran pilot with over 25 years of experience and over 8,500 flying hours and will fill the role of Special Mission Pilot.
For last year’s Axiom-1 mission, three private spaceflight participants paid $55 million per seat. “The cost of sending humans and payloads into space is dynamic and complex,” said Derek Hassmann, Axiom’s chief of mission coordination and operations, who did not disclose how much Shoffner paid for the flight.
Ali Al-Qarni and Rayana Barnawi, the second and third Saudi citizens to travel to space and the first to visit the International Space Station, were the first government-sponsored astronauts to fly on a special Axiom mission to the International Space Station.
Barnawi, the first Saudi female astronaut, works in a cancer research laboratory. Al-Qarni is a captain and fighter pilot with 12 years of experience in the Saudi Air Force.
“Ali, as a military pilot, brings a lot of discipline and enthusiasm to the job and is always ready for additional testing,” Sarah Leah Whitson said last month. “Rayana was the first Saudi woman to fly in space, and she obviously plays an important role as a role model, but her scientific background in breast cancer and stem cell research is really important for a lot of the research that we will be doing during the mission.”
Al-Qarni and Bernawi are members of the Saudi Space Agency’s National Astronaut Program — unlike Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, who was the first Saudi citizen to fly into space in 1985 aboard NASA’s space shuttle Discovery. Arabia and the first government-sponsored astronauts flew the Axiom mission.
“This mission is the second in a series of our audacious missions to the International Space Station,” Michael Saffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space, said last month. “Those are really the steps for us and the process of getting ready to build our space station.”
Axiom Space hopes to launch its first module docking with the International Space Station late next year. Another power and cooling system follows, and finally. Before NASA retires the International Space Station in 2030, the multi-module Axiom Station is slated to become a free-flying commercial space station.
“We will be able to work efficiently with NASA and work towards a smooth transition from the International Space Station to the Axiom Space Station when the International Space Station is retired,” Suffredini said.
SpaceX Starlink is expected to launch again at midnight from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station later this week, ahead of the launch of Axiom-2 on Sunday. Takeoff is scheduled to take place between midnight and 4 am on Friday, May 19.
For the latest information, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule. Watch Florida Today’s live launch coverage at https://www.floridatoday.com/space/ starting 90 minutes before liftoff.
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As of Sunday, May 21:
- Company/Agency: SpaceX for NASA and Axiom Space
- rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- location: Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center
- Release time: 5:37 p.m. EST
- road: the Northeast
- weather: to be announced later on
- Landing: Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Station
- live feed: Starts 90 minutes before departure at floridatoday.com/space
- on: SpaceX, under contract with Axiom Space, will launch a second private spaceflight for NASA to the International Space Station. Former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who will lead the mission as commander, and Special Astronaut John Shoffner, pilot of Axiom-2, are joined by mission specialists Ali Al-Qarni and Rihanna Bernawi, the second and third Saudi citizens to fly into space. He first visited the International Space Station on a 10-day mission to the orbiting laboratory.