1 day to launch: Ax-2 crew aces dress rehearsal
SpaceX is one day away from launching four private astronauts to the International Space Station for Axiom Space and the Ax-2 mission’s crew are more than ready for launch.
On Friday, May 19, the Ax-2 astronauts — commander Peggy Whitson (a former NASA spaceflyer); pilot John Shoffner, a paying customer; and Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni; — performed a dress rehearsal for their planned launch on Sunday from NASA’s Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida.
The four astronauts donned their sleek SpaceX spacesuits and rode out to the pad in Tesla electric cars, where they climbed inside their Dragon capsule Freedom.
“We got to see our rocket up close today! And, yes, there are goose bumps of excitement!!” Whitson said on Twitter.
Teams completed a full rehearsal of launch day activities with the @Axiom_Space Ax-2 crew pic.twitter.com/0xhqrf0SwLMay 19, 2023
Two days until Ax-2 launch
The Axiom 2 (Ax-2) mission is set to launch at 5:37 p.m. EDT (2137 GMT) on May 21 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. And the crew of the mission can hardly contain their excitement ahead of the eight-day-long mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Crew commander Peggy Whitson will be the first woman to lead a private space mission, following two commands of the ISS as a NASA astronaut. “We really feel like we’re prepared to go. We have a few more objectives to meet in the next few days, but we are so excited to get to space,” she said in a press conference Tuesday (May 16).
The crew includes Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Alqarni, private pilot John Shoffner and Whitson. Alqarni plans to bring Saudi coffee and dates as he and Barnawai become the first two Saudi astronauts on the orbiting complex. — Rob Lea
What to know about Axiom Space’s 2nd private mission to the ISS
Axiom Space is still aiming to launch its Ax-2 mission with SpaceX on Sunday (May 21) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Want to learn more about the mission? Here’s what you need to know about Ax-2 and how it fits into Axiom Space’s ambitious plans in Earth orbit.
Read more: Meet the 4 astronauts of SpaceX’s Ax-2 mission for Axiom Space
Ax-2 crew shares excitement over upcoming launch
The four astronauts who will be launching on Axiom Space’s upcoming Ax-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) held a virtual press conference on Tuesday (May 16) to discuss their impending spaceflight.
Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, Ax-2 mission specialists who are members of Saudi Arabia’s first astronaut class, shared their excitement over being chosen to represent their nation as it sends its first humans to the ISS. “We are really honored and privileged to have you guys and to be part of this amazing mission,” Alqarni said, adding that he and Barnawi “are really thrilled and excited for our mission and to represent Saudi Arabia on this journey.”
Ax-2 pilot John Shoffner, meanwhile, shared that “To say I’m excited to be here would be a gross understatement.” It will be Shoffner’s first trip to space.
Axiom Space’s Ax-2 mission is scheduled to liftoff atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday (May 21) at 5:37 p.m. EDT (2137 GMT) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You can watch it live here courtesy of NASA and SpaceX.
Read more: Ax-2 private astronauts can’t wait for their May 21 SpaceX launch to the space station
Related: Meet the 4 astronauts of SpaceX’s Ax-2 mission for Axiom Space
Axiom Space ‘Go’ for Ax-2 launch on May 21
In a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) conference held Monday (May 15), mission managers from NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom Space said the upcoming Ax-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is currently on track to launch as scheduled at 5:37 p.m. EDT (2137 GMT) on Sunday, May 21.
“Today we had a review where we brought together members of the team from Axiom Space, SpaceX and NASA to talk about the upcoming mission, and at the end of that review, the full team polled ‘go,'” said Ken Bowersox, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate.
The mission will be the second-ever all-private mission to the International Space Station. The first, Ax-1, launched in April 2022 atop a SpaceX rocket and saw four private astronauts spend more than two weeks aboard the ISS.
Read more: SpaceX to launch 1st Saudi woman to space on private Ax-2 mission