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  • Satellite Evolution Group

Ax-2 mission successfully launches, four private astronauts headed to Space Station

Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), the world’s second all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), successfully launched on the 21st May 2023 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Ax-2 crew includes record-breaking astronaut Commander Peggy Whitson, Pilot John Shoffner, and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi from the Saudi Space Commission (SSC) — both of whom are members of the inaugural Saudi national astronaut class. This multinational team is making history as it is the first Axiom Space mission with both private and government sponsored astronauts, opening access to low-Earth orbit to a broader population.

During their planned 10-day mission, the Ax-2 crew will live and work aboard the orbiting laboratory conducting more than 20 research experiments across a breadth of science and technology specialty areas to inform future human spaceflight and improve life on Earth.

“I first want to congratulate Peggy, John, Ali, and Rayyanah as they start this historic mission. We are ushering in a new era in commercial human spaceflight that is opening the door to nations, where access to space moves beyond the partners of the ISS to include countries, institutions, and individuals with new ideas fueling human innovation in space,” said Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space. “This journey is the culmination of long hours of training, planning, and dedication from the crew and the entire Axiom Space team, our partners at SpaceX, and of course, a credit to NASA’s vision to develop a sustainable presence in low-Earth orbit.” 

The mission will celebrate many historic milestones including the first female to command a private space mission, first Saudi astronauts to visit the International Space Station, and the first Saudi female astronaut and the first Arab female to orbit Earth.


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