Watch private Ax-2 astronauts head back to Earth in SpaceX Dragon today: Times Of Nation
The four astronauts of the private Ax-2 mission are scheduled to head home to Earth today (May 30), and you can watch the action live.
The hatches between Ax-2’s SpaceX Dragon capsule, named Freedom, and the International Space Station (ISS) are scheduled to close at 9:10 a.m. EDT (1310 GMT) today. You can watch the milestone live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT).
Freedom will undock from the orbiting lab at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT), if all goes according to plan. Follow along here at Space.com beginning at 10:45 a.m. EDT (1445 GMT), again courtesy of NASA TV. The capsule will come back to our planet for an ocean splashdown at 11:02 p.m. EDT today (0302 GMT on May 31). You can watch Freedom’s return here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, beginning at about 10 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT on May 31).
Related: SpaceX launches Ax-2 private astronaut mission to station, 1st Saudi woman in space on board (video)
Read more: Axiom Space Ax-2 private spaceflight with SpaceX: Live updates
Ax-2 launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on May 21 and arrived at the ISS a day later.
The private mission, which is operated by Axiom Space, is commanded by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who now works for the Houston-based company. The other crewmates are paying customer John Shoffner and Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, both of whom are members of Saudi Arabia’s first astronaut class.
The Saudi duo were the first people from the kingdom to visit the ISS, and Barnawi became the first Saudi woman ever to reach space.
The four Ax-2 astronauts helped perform more than 20 scientific experiments during their eight days aboard the orbiting lab and conducted a variety of outreach and education activities as well. Alqarni and Barnawi were particularly busy with outreach work, as Saudi Arabia views their mission as a golden opportunity to spark a love of science and engineering in the nation’s youth.
As its name suggests, Ax-2 is the second mission that Axiom Space has flown to the ISS. The first, Ax-1, sent four people up on a SpaceX Dragon in April 2022.
Axiom plans to continue flying such missions for the next few years, but it also has bigger goals in mind. The company intends to launch a handful of modules to the ISS starting in 2025. These modules will then detach from the orbiting lab in the late 2020s to become a free-flying private outpost in low Earth orbit.
NASA is fully supportive of this effort. The space agency is encouraging the development of private space stations, hoping at least one is up and running before the ISS is retired at the end of 2030.
(News Source :Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a www.space.com feed.)
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