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June 23, 2024

Historic All-European Crew Launches to Space Station on Axiom Mission 3

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Jan 19, 2024

After a one-day delay due to unfavorable weather, the third crewed mission by private space company Axiom Space successfully launched four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on January 19th. The multinational European crew consisting of a Swede, Italian, British-American and the first Turkish astronaut lifted off at 1:10 pm EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Crew Makes History with Firsts

The Ax-3 mission marks several historic firsts including:

  • First all-European commercial crew to visit ISS
  • First Turkish astronaut launched to space – Dr. Murat Gezer, a professor at Istanbul Technical University
  • First mission commander without a government agency background – Swedish angel investor Marcus Wandt

“It’s an honor to be commanding the first private mission with a crew of European astronauts,” said Wandt in a pre-launch briefing. “We have trained extensively to conduct meaningful research initiatives on the ISS that could benefit people on Earth.”

The other crew members are experienced pilot Umberto Guidoni of Italy and mission specialist Jeffrey Manber, an American-British citizen who is the CEO of Nanoracks which manages over 1,300 research payloads on the ISS.

Mission Overview and Research Goals

The Ax-3 astronauts will spend 8 days aboard the ISS conducting scientific research in areas like smart materials, healthcare technologies and space botany.

Some of their major investigation goals include:

  • Testing the effects of a space environment on bioengineered human tissues
  • Growing plants without soil to further develop space agriculture
  • Studying new drug delivery methods using microgravity
  • Experimenting with shape-memory polymers for potential applications in medicine and aerospace

The four crewmates will work alongside the Expedition 69 astronauts already on the orbiting laboratory during their stay.

Autonomous Docking Makes Private Mission History

The Ax-3 Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavor, successfully docked to the space station’s Harmony module at 8:07 am EST on January 20th. For the first time ever, a private crew capsule autonomously approached and attached itself to the ISS without assistance from NASA astronauts onboard.

“It’s amazing that Endeavor essentially parked itself while we monitored all the systems,” said Guidoni. “This autonomous rendezvous capability is a game-changer for commercial access to space.”

Outlook After Departure

Once their mission is complete, Endeavor will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere for a splashdown off the coast of Florida on January 27th. The Ax-3 astronauts will be greeted by a SpaceX recovery ship to begin their return home.

Meanwhile, preparations are already underway for the next Axiom Space mission (Ax-4) targeted to launch sometime later this year. The success of Ax-3 helps validate Axiom’s vision of providing routine human spaceflights and microgravity research opportunities.

“Today we open up low-Earth orbit to more people, more science and more opportunity,” said Axiom Space President & CEO Michael Suffredini. “This is the first step on Axiom’s journey to construct and deploy a commercial space station that will provide services to both private and government astronauts.”

Mission Timeline

Here is an overview timeline of key events for the Axiom-3 mission:

Date Event
January 16 Flight Readiness Review completed; astronauts begin health checks for launch
January 18 Launch attempt scrubbed due to weather

January 19 | Falcon 9 launches with 4 astronauts from KSC at 1:10pm EST
January 20 | Dragon spacecraft autonomously docks to ISS at 8:07am EST
| January 25 | Experiments and research activities conclude
| January 26 | Dragon undocks from ISS
| January 27 | Dragon splashes down off Florida coast; crew returns to Earth

Crew Bios and Mission Roles

Marcus Wandt (Sweden) – Ax-3 Mission Commander

  • Background: Angel investor and former Air Force pilot
  • Responsibilities: Overall leadership, mission success and crew safety
  • Research area: Testing smart materials that can return to their original shape after being exposed to space

Umberto Guidoni (Italy) – Ax-3 Pilot

  • Background: First European astronaut on International Space Station in 2001
  • Responsibilities: Dragon spacecraft flight operations and rendezvous
  • Research area: Plant growth experiments for space agriculture

Jeffrey Manber (U.S./UK) – Ax-3 Mission Specialist

  • Background: CEO of Nanoracks managing over 1300 commercial experiments on ISS
  • Responsibilities: Coordination of science activities and communication with ground teams
  • Research area: Drug delivery and remote health monitoring techniques

Murat Gezer (Turkey) – Ax-3 Mission Specialist and first Turkish astronaut

  • Background: Professor at Istanbul Technical University
  • Responsibilities: Maintenance, biotechnology experiments
  • Research area: Effects of microgravity on bioengineered human tissues

This experienced and diverse crew will conduct meaningful R&D on the ISS over 8 days while making history as the first all-European team of private astronauts in low-Earth orbit. Their landmark Ax-3 mission sets the foundation for expanded commercial access to space alongside government agency crews.

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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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