Watch SpaceX Dragon carrying private Ax-2 astronauts return to Earth tonight: Times Of Nation
The four astronauts of the private Ax-2 mission are scheduled to return to Earth in their SpaceX Dragon capsule tonight (May 30), and you can watch it live.
That Dragon, named Freedom, undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) today at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT), ending an eight-day stay at the orbiting lab. Freedom is now making its way back to Earth, a 12-hour trip that will culminate with a splashdown off the Florida coast at about 11:04 p.m. EDT tonight (0304 GMT on May 31).
You can watch Freedom’s return here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the company. Coverage is expected to begin around 10 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT on May 31).
Related: SpaceX launches Ax-2 private astronaut mission to space station (video)
Read more: Ax-2 spaceflight with SpaceX: Live updates
Ax-2 is the second mission to the ISS operated by Houston-based company Axiom Space, after Ax-1 in April 2022. That previous mission was the first all-private crewed flight to the orbiting lab.
Ax-2 is commanded by Peggy Whitson, the record-breaking former NASA astronaut who now serves as director of human spaceflight at Axiom Space. The other crewmates are John Shoffner, Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi.
Shoffner is a paying customer, and Alqarni and Barnawi are members of Saudi Arabia’s first astronaut class. The latter duo are the first Saudis to visit the ISS, and Barnawi is the first woman from the kingdom ever to reach space.
Just one person from Saudi Arabia had ever gone to space before Ax-2 — the prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, who flew on the STS-51-G mission of the space shuttle Discovery back in 1985.
“Every story comes to an end, and this is only the beginning of a new era for our country and our region,” Barnawi said during a farewell ceremony on the ISS on Monday (May 29).
“So, [I’d] just like to thank everyone here who has helped us,” she added, fighting back tears.
Whitson — who has spent more time in space than any other American and any other woman — also choked up during the ceremony. (Her spaceflight record stood at 665 days before Ax-2’s launch.)
“These guys, they welcomed us onboard,” the Ax-2 commander said, referring to the crewmembers of the ISS’ current Expedition 69 mission. “And they’ve helped us a lot, but they’ve also just been so courteous and kind. And we really appreciate all of that; we felt at home while we were here. Thank you, and I will be back!”
More SpaceX Dragons will be making their way to the ISS in the near future, if all goes according to plan.
A robotic version of the capsule is scheduled to launch on a cargo mission to the orbiting lab this Saturday (June 3), for example. And the Crew Dragon Endurance will fly four people to the ISS on SpaceX’s Crew-7 mission for NASA, which is slated to lift off in August.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. ET on May 30 with depature-ceremony quotes from Rayyanah Barnawi and Peggy Whitson.
(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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