A SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying four private astronauts will arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) Monday morning (May 22), and you can watch the action live.
THE Dragonnamed Liberty, launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday evening (May 21), the private party kicks off Axe-2 mission to the orbital laboratory.
Freedom is due to dock with the ISS on Monday at 9:24 a.m. EDT (1324 GMT), ending a nearly 17-hour orbital chase. Watch the rendezvous here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly through the space agency. Coverage will begin at 7:30 a.m. EDT (11:30 a.m. GMT) and continue through the hatch opening at 11:13 a.m. EDT (3:13 p.m. GMT) and welcoming remarks from ISS astronauts about 30 minutes later.
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Ax-2 is commanded by a former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitsonwho now works for Axiom space, the Houston-based company that operates the mission. Businessman and paying customer John Shoffner serves as the pilot, and Ali AlQarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, two members of the first class of Saudi astronauts, are specialists in the Ax-2 mission. AlQarni and Barnawi will be the first Saudis to visit the ISS, and Barnawi is the first woman from the kingdom to reach space.
Whitson has already spent more time in space than any other American astronaut, and with Ax-2 becomes the first woman to command a private spaceflight.
The Ax-2 crew will join the seven members of the current Expedition 69 aboard the ISS. After acclimatizing to microgravity environment in low Earth orbit, the crew has a heavy record of research investigations, scientific experiments and educational outreach to occupy their time during the eight-day mission.
Studies of mRNA degradation in space, new communication systems and radiation shielding polymers are among more than 20 projects the Ax-2 crew will engage in before returning to Earth. Earth at the end of the month.
After undocking from the orbiting lab, Ax-2’s Dragon Freedom capsule will de-orbit and crash land off the coast of Florida.