The crew of “Axiom-2”, the second completely private mission to the International Space Station, is back on earth after around ten days on board the ISS. Two participants from Saudi Arabia were also there: the astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi and her colleague Ali Alqarni landed together with the former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and the ex-racing driver John Shoffner in a “Dragon” capsule of the private space company SpaceX in front of the Coast of the US state of Florida.
Axiom Space is planning its own commercial space station
Barnawi (34) – a scientist in cancer stem cell research – is the first citizen of Saudi Arabia to fly into space. Alqarni (31) is a fighter pilot in the Saudi Air Force. On board the ISS, the crew carried out scientific experiments, among other things.
After landing off the Florida coast, the “Dragon” capsule is lifted onto a ship
According to media reports, the participants in the “Axiom 2” mission each paid the equivalent of around 50 million euros for the trip. It was organized by the private space company Axiom Space in cooperation with the US space agency NASA and SpaceX – the company of tech billionaire Elon Musk.
Founded in Houston in 2016 by former NASA executive Michael Suffredini and Iranian-American businessman Kam Ghaffarian, Axiom Space sees itself as a future major player in the space market. It is planning its own commercial space station and has already been commissioned by NASA to build a commercial ISS module.
There have been individual space tourists on the International Space Station on several occasions. In April 2022, with “Axiom-1”, a completely private mission to the ISS – around 400 kilometers above the earth – was organized for the first time. At that time, the Spanish-American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, the US entrepreneur Larry Connor, the Israeli entrepreneur Eytan Stibbe and the Canadian investor Mark Pathy flew to the ISS.
sti/AR (dpa, rtr)