Axiom Space's Ax-2 mission is now planned for May 8th

Axiom Space, a Houston-based space company, has announced that its second private space mission to the ISS should take place on May 8 this year.
Christopher McFadden
Axiom set to launch second mission to space.
Axiom set to launch second mission to space.

Axiom Space 

Assuming no major setbacks, we should see the second-ever private astronaut mission to the International Space Station in May 2023. As part of the Ax-2 mission, which the Houston-based company Axiom Space will launch on May 8, four people will travel to the orbiting lab aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule dubbed "Freedom."

Liftoff is scheduled for 10:43 pm EDT on May 8 (0:243 p.m. GMT on May 9) using a Falcon 9 rocket that will launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be the second space flight for "Freedom," which launched SpaceX's Crew-4 astronaut mission to the ISS on behalf of NASA, and the first for the first stage of this Falcon 9 rocket.

After launch, at around 11:40 am EDT (1540 GMT) on May 10, almost 37 hours later, "Freedom" and its four passengers are scheduled to dock with the ISS.

"This crew will be docked to the International Space Station in 10 days," Joel Montalbano, NASA's ISS program manager, said during an Ax-2 press conference today. "They'll do over 20 research experiments that will result in about 130 hours of national lab science."

Ax-2 will launch 13 months after Ax-1, carrying an all-private astronaut crew to the ISS for the first flight. Like Ax-1, Ax-2 will be piloted by a former NASA astronaut in the payroll of Axiom Space – Peggy Whitson, who has spent 665 days in space, more than any other American. As for the other passengers, Ax-2 will write its piece of history with two Saudi Arabian astronauts, Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni, tagging along. AlQarni and Barnawi will be the first Saudis to visit the ISS, and Barnawi will make history as the first Saudi woman to travel to space.

Investor John Shoffner, a paying client who will act as Ax-2's pilot, is the team's fourth member. "I feel very blessed that I have such an extremely talented crew that has not only met but surpassed the training requirements for this mission," Whitson said during today's press conference.

The impending mission will build off its predecessor, which was meant to stay at the ISS for ten days but remained docked for six additional days due to prolonged bad weather over its splashdown zone.

The long-term goals of Axiom Space go beyond operating private astronaut flights to and from the ISS. The business intends to send modules to the ISS in 2025, constructing a personal outpost that will be able to separate and take off on its own by the end of this decade.

Axiom hopes to launch its commercial station before the ISS shuts down in 2030.

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