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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

SpaceX’s Ax-2 astronaut launch simply put the 600th individual in orbit

The 600th individual to enter Earth orbit is now on her option to the Worldwide Area Station aboard the second industrial mission to fly there.

Rayyanah Barnawi on Sunday (Might 21) lifted off with fellow Saudi Area Fee (SSC) astronaut Ali AlQarni, privately funded astronaut John Shoffner of Tennessee and former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson on the second mission organized by Houston-based area providers firm Axiom Area. The 4 Axiom 2 (Ax-2) crewmates launched at 5:37 p.m. EDT (2137 GMT) on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft “Freedom” atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Area Middle in Florida.

Lower than 9 minutes later, Barnawi and her crewmates started circling the planet. AlQarni and Shoffner are first-time fliers as effectively, however primarily based on a precedent set in 2021 when the 600th individual entered area — a determine that additionally included suborbital flights — the rely is predicated on the astronauts’ mission designations.

As pilot, Shoffner turned quantity 598. AlQarni is quantity 599, flying as mission specialist 1. As such, Barnawi, as mission specialist 2, claimed the spherical quantity. With Barnawi, solely 72 ladies assist comprise the 600-person complete.

Associated: Reside updates from the Ax-2 non-public astronaut mission
Extra: SpaceX’s Ax-2 mission for Axiom Area in photographs (gallery)

Ax-2 mission specialist Rayyanah Barnawi in a spacesuit.

Ax-2 mission specialist Rayyanah Barnawi with the Saudi Area Fee has change into the 600th individual to orbit Earth. She can also be the primary Arab lady to circle the planet, first Saudi lady to fly into area and 72nd lady worldwide to orbit Earth. (Picture credit score: SpaceX)

“I really feel extremely humbled to comply with within the footsteps of the various astronauts and pioneers earlier than me,” mentioned Barnawi in a press release. “Because the 600th individual to enter orbit round Earth, I’m excited to characterize the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Area Fee throughout this historic mission. It’s a true honor to be part of a mission that’s increasing entry to low-Earth orbit for individuals like me and also you and to have the ability to encourage individuals around the globe to succeed in for the celebs and pursue their goals.”

Barnawi can also be now the primary Saudi lady to fly in area and first Arab lady to orbit Earth, and with AlQarni, the primary Arabs and Saudis to launch collectively on the identical mission. The primary Saudi (and Arab) astronaut to fly, Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, did in order a payload specialist aboard the area shuttle Discovery in 1985.

As soon as they arrive on the Worldwide Area Station, which is predicted to happen at 9:24 a.m. EDT (1324 GMT) on Monday, Barnawi and AlQarni shall be greeted by the station’s Expedition 69 crew, together with Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi, marking the primary time three Arab astronauts have been in area on the similar time.

Barnawi, 33, and AlQarni, 31, are usually not the one record-setters on the Ax-2 crew. Shoffner, 67, is the primary individual to have been born in Alaska (Fairbanks) to fly into area.

Axiom Space's Ax-2 crew inside SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft "Freedom."

Axiom Area’s Ax-2 crew are seen in SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft “Freedom,” from left: mission specialist Rayyanah Barnawi, pilot John Shoffner, commander Peggy Whitson and mission specialist Ali AlQarni. (Picture credit score: SpaceX)

Peggy Whitson, as a former NASA astronaut, already holds the excellence as probably the most skilled American and lady to fly into area, having beforehand logged greater than 665 days on three long-duration stays aboard the area station. She is going to add to that rely on this mission, which is predicted to final about 10 days.

Whitson, 63, is now additionally the primary lady to command a industrial spaceflight. She joined Axiom Area after retiring from NASA in 2018, turning into the corporate’s director of human spaceflight. Whitson is the second former NASA astronaut to fly for Axiom, following Michael Lopez-Alegria on Ax-1 in 2022, and the third NASA astronaut to return to area after leaving the company, following John Glenn in 1998.

Through the subsequent week on the area station, Whitson will help Shoffner, AlQarni and Barnawi proceed by means of their deliberate science and outreach applications. The Ax-2 crew plans to conduct greater than 20 totally different experiments, together with analysis into stem cells, DNA-based nanomaterials and most cancers countermeasures. They can even {photograph} lightning strikes and high-altitude transient luminous occasions (TLEs) referred to as sprites and take a look at a wearable skinsuit that simulates Earth’s gravity to counteract the adverse results of microgravity.

Shoffner, a race automobile driver who has aspired to fly into area since his childhood, will use a part of his time to announce the winners of a Crayola-sponsored artwork and poetry contest that was open to kids from around the globe. AlQarni and Barnawi will work together with college students in Saudi Arabia with the purpose of inspiring an curiosity in science, expertise, engineering and arithmetic (STEM) training.

“We’ll be doing three training consciousness experiments with the youngsters,” mentioned AlQarni throughout a pre-launch press convention. “It may be a reside occasion, which goes to be superb for them as a result of it is going to be an enormous alternative to check the outcomes that that they had [on] the bottom with those we’re going to have aboard the ISS.”

AlQarni and Barnawi are additionally bringing a style of their nation to their short-term dwelling in orbit.

“We’re taking with us Saudi espresso and dates to share with the astronauts on board the ISS,” mentioned AlQarni in a reply to a query posed by

Barnawi has a Saudi flag and packed earrings from her grandmother, who was not in a position to attend her launch however gave her blessing for Barnawi to fly into area.

Whitson has once more flown a necklace that she wore at her wedding ceremony after which flew on her three earlier missions. Shoffner selected one thing that represents his life-long dream of flying in area.

“Once I was eight years previous, I constructed a mannequin of the Gemini spacecraft. It had little astronauts in it that would come out and I occur to nonetheless have one from 1963. So a type of little guys — most likely Ed White, I think about — goes with me to area once more,” he mentioned.

Associated: Information about NASA’s Gemini human spaceflight program

Mission patch for Axiom Space's Ax-2 astronaut mission to the International Space Station.

Axiom Area patch for the Axiom-2 (Ax-2) mission. (Picture credit score: Axiom Area)

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