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SpaceX Crewed Mission to ISS on Track for Sunday Launch


Brevard County - Friday May 19, 2023: SpaceX is targeting no earlier than Sunday, May 21, for the launch of the Axiom-2 mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The launch window is at 5:37 p.m. ET, with a backup opportunity available on Monday, May 22 at 5:14 p.m. ET.

Aboard the Dragon capsule on top of the Falcon-9 rocket will be 4 astronauts who will conduct over 20 science and technology experiments during their time in the orbiting laboratory. The experiments will be in the areas of human physiology, physical sciences, and STEAM which will help expand knowledge in the fields of healthcare, materials, technology development, and enable industrial advances.

Peggy Whitson will be the mission commander. She holds the American astronaut record for spending the most time in space, over 665 days. She was the first female commander of the International Space Station and the only woman to serve as ISS commander twice.

STEM advocate, business pioneer, and lifelong space enthusiast John Shoffner will serve as the pilot for the Ax-2 mission. Shoffner retired as President of the fiber optic company Dura-Line in 1997. He is an air show pilot with over 8,500 flight hours in fixed-wing aircraft, decommissioned military aircraft, and helicopters. This will be his first trip into space.

Two Saudi astronauts will also be making their first trips into space, Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi. They are the first Saudi Arabian government astronauts assigned to a private spaceflight.

Alqarni will serve as a mission specialist on the Ax-2 mission. He has been a fighter pilot with the Royal Saudi Air Force. He was the inaugural member of the Saudi National Astronaut Program. And he is only the second Saudi male astronaut and one of the first Saudi astronauts to visit the ISS.

Barnawi is the first female Saudi Arabian astronaut. She is also serving as a mission specialist on the Ax-2 mission. Barnawi is a biomedical researcher with almost a decade of experience in cancer stem-cell research.

The Dragon spacecraft supporting this mission previously flew Crew-4 to and from the space station. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will land on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The SpaceX webcast for the Ax-2 mission will go live about 3.5 hours before liftoff at:

From Left - Peggy Whitson, Ali Alqarni, John Shoffner, Rayyanah Barnawi
From Left - Peggy Whitson, Ali Alqarni, John Shoffner, Rayyanah Barnawi