Axiom Space Successfully Launches Diverse Crew on Second Private Mission to International Space Station

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule launches from Pad-39A on the Crew 5 mission carrying crew members commander Nicole Mann, pilot Josh Cassada, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina and Mission Specialist Koichi Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. October 5, 2022. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Axiom Space, the Houston-based private space exploration company, has triumphantly launched its second privately organized mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The diverse crew, led by a retired NASA astronaut who now works for Axiom, embarked on their historic journey aboard a SpaceX capsule. Notably, this mission marks the first-ever space travel for a female stem cell researcher from Saudi Arabia and a fighter pilot from the Royal Saudi Air Force.

Additionally, a renowned US businessman, who currently owns a sports car racing team, and a chaperone in the form of Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the ISS, completed the crew. Sponsored by the Saudi Arabian government, Rayyanah Barnawi, the pioneering Saudi scientist, expressed her excitement, stating that this achievement would inspire others in her country. The crew will spend over a week aboard the ISS before returning to Earth with a splashdown off the coast of Florida. Coincidentally, upon arrival at the ISS, they will be greeted by an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates, adding an international flair to their journey.

Axiom Space plans to expand its presence on the ISS by constructing its own modules in the coming years, eventually transforming them into a self-sustaining outpost available for commercial use. The exact cost of the 10-day mission has not been disclosed, but Axiom Space had previously mentioned a ticket price of $55 million per person. The successful return of SpaceX’s first-stage booster to Cape Canaveral marks another milestone, as it can now be refurbished for future flights. Matt Ondler, Axiom’s chief technology officer, expressed his excitement about the mission’s progress and emphasized its significance in shaping the future of low-Earth orbit. With Axiom’s visionary plans, private space travel continues to push boundaries and open up opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to explore the wonders of space.

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