Axiom Space’s third charter mission to the International Space Station (ISS), known as Ax-3, is set to launch on Wednesday, Jan. 17, with an all-European crew. The crew members, currently in quarantine in Florida, spoke about their upcoming mission and its significance. Among them is Commander Michael López-Alegría, a dual citizen of the United States and Spain, who will be leading the mission.
The launch, scheduled for 5:11 p.m. EST, marks an important step towards Axiom Space’s goal of establishing a commercial space station in orbit before the end of the decade. This upcoming mission will be López-Alegría’s second time serving as both a mission commander and a private astronaut.
Walter Villadei, the pilot of Ax-3, will become only the second non-U.S. citizen to pilot a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. Additionally, one of the mission specialists, Alper Gezeravcı, will make history as the first Turkish astronaut to go to space.
During their 14-day mission, the crew will conduct over 30 scientific experiments and participate in 50 outreach events. These activities aim to further scientific research and promote public engagement with space exploration.
In addition to their scientific pursuits, the crew members will also bring small items of personal significance to themselves and their respective countries. This symbolic gesture represents the unity and diversity of the international crew onboard the ISS.
Leading up to the launch, there will be a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket, as well as a dry dress rehearsal. The Launch Readiness Review and a pre-launch teleconference are scheduled for the following day to ensure all systems are in place for a successful mission.
Reflecting on his nearly 30-year career in spaceflight, López-Alegría expressed his gratitude for the privilege of journeying into space. Axiom Space plans to continue sending private astronaut missions to the ISS, contributing to the ongoing advancements in space exploration.
Stay tuned for updates on Ax-3 mission and its achievements as it progresses towards its goal of reaching the International Space Station.
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