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May 23, 2024

Historic All-European Crew Launches to ISS on Axiom-3 Mission

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Jan 21, 2024

An all-European crew of four astronauts launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on January 18th, 2024, aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. This Axiom-3 mission marks the first time astronauts from Italy, Sweden, and Turkey have visited the ISS.

Lead Up to Launch

Originally scheduled to launch on January 17th, the Axiom-3 mission was delayed by 24 hours due to poor weather conditions. Fortunately the weather cleared in time for a successful launch the next day at 11:07 EST from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This is the third private crew mission sent to ISS by Houston-based company Axiom Space, who have a contract with NASA for a total of four crewed flights. For this flight, Axiom Space partnered with the European Space Agency (ESA) to procure seats for European astronauts through a commercial public-private partnership.

Crew Composition

The Axiom-3 crew is composed of four career astronauts who were selected and trained by ESA (Table 1). They will live and conduct research aboard the ISS for 16 days.

Name Nationality Role
Marcus Wandt Sweden Mission Commander
Giulia Poletti Italy Pilot
Ayşe Gezer Avcı Turkey Payload Specialist
Mohammad Faris Saudi Arabia Payload Specialist

This mission has tremendous significance for Marcus Wandt, Giulia Poletti, and Ayşe Gezer Avcı, who will be the first astronauts from their respective countries to visit the ISS. Turkey is celebrating an especially momentous occasion, as Ayşe Gezer Avcı is the first Turkish citizen in space. Her launch was broadcast live on public screens across Turkey.

Launch and Journey Details

The Axiom-3 astronauts launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. Their SpaceX Crew Dragon space capsule, named Endeavour, will take approximately 29 hours to rendezvous and dock with the space station.

The Crew Dragon performed flawlessly during launch, with its first stage booster landing successfully on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions stationed out in the Atlantic Ocean.

Endeavour is currently in orbit and on track to arrive at the ISS by 12:57 EST on January 19th. The crew will dock to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, the same one used during prior Axiom missions.

Mission Objectives

While aboard the space station, the Axiom-3 crew will be busy conducting over 25 science experiments across diverse fields like biomedical research, Earth observations, microgravity, and technology demonstrations.

Research Goals

Some of the key research goals include:

  • Testing a smart shirt to monitor astronaut health in microgravity environments
  • Studying heart cells to better understand cardiovascular disease
  • Investigating brain organoids to gain insight on neurodegenerative disorders
  • Capturing Earth images to demonstrate detecting leaks from pipelines
  • Assessing a spacecraft cabin disinfection device
  • Demonstrating movable camera robots for future station operations
  • Testing interactions between a mixture of particles in microgravity

“The diversity of research areas the Crew will work on reflects the international, commercial and peaceful objectives of this Axiom Mission,” said ESA’s David Parker.

The mission also involves educational outreach events where the crew engages with students around the world.

What Comes Next

Once their 16 day mission concludes, Endeavour will depart from the Harmony module and descend back to Earth for a splashdown landing off the coast of Florida around February 12th.

This successful flight paves the way for Axiom Space to launch their fourth and final contracted crew mission to the ISS late this year. It also demonstrates strong continued demand for access to low-Earth orbit by international government agencies and private companies.

With his company on track to launch the first commercial module to the ISS in 2025, Axiom Space Founder and CEO Michael Suffredini is optimistic about humanity’s future in space:

“This is the first step in Axiom providing the world’s first commercial space station that we believe will someday form the nucleus of a thriving economy in LEO.”

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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