The first all-European commercial crew to the International Space Station (ISS) arrived safely at the orbital outpost on Saturday morning.
Axiom-3 team members – Marcus Wand of Sweden; Michael Lopez-Alegria, a dual citizen of the United States and Spain; Walter Villadei of Italy; and Turkey's Alper Gezeravcı — were launched into orbit by a Falcon 9 rocket aboard a SpaceX crew Dragon capsule from Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.
Current ISS crew members Jasmine Mogbeli and Laurel O'Hara shared some dramatic images of Crew Dragon as it approached the space station on Saturday morning.
For example, the clip below shows the spacecraft as seen from the ISS.
Ax-3's scenic approach to the space station, now inhabited by 11 people representing 8 countries! pic.twitter.com/38HbH6jW3Q
— Loral O'Hara (@lunarloral) January 21, 2024
Mokbeli also shared four beautiful pictures showing the Crew Dragon high above the Himalayas.
#axe3 It has arrived! I'm not sure they could have chosen a more scenic backdrop for their visit. Excited to welcome @Talapati MLA, @Walter Villadey, @TURKastroAnd @astro_marcus On the ship @space station! pic.twitter.com/ckqS2VgG10
— Jasmine Mokbeli (@AstroJaws) January 20, 2024
The arrival of the Axiom-3 crew brings the total number of people aboard the ISS to 11. Over the next two weeks, the four newcomers will conduct more than 30 science experiments and participate in 50 outreach events. .
Axiom-3 is the third commercial mission to the ISS organized by Texas-based Axiom Space with support from NASA and SpaceX. The first one took place in April 2022.
Willedy, Wand and Kezeravsi are believed to have paid millions of dollars for the privilege of spending two weeks in orbit.
Providing opportunities for private citizens to travel to space gives NASA the opportunity to develop a commercial economy in low Earth orbit.
As Axiom Space expands its commercial efforts, it also aims to build a commercial space station that could one day replace the ISS, which will take the aging facility out of service in seven years.
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