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HomescienceSpaceX launches Axiom Space's Ax-3 mission to the International Space Station: NPR

SpaceX launches Axiom Space's Ax-3 mission to the International Space Station: NPR

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule launches from the LC-39A pad during Axiom Space's Ax-3 mission at Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on January 18, 2024.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule launches from the LC-39A pad during Axiom Space's Ax-3 mission at Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on January 18, 2024.

Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

The first all-European commercial crew is on its way to the International Space Station after SpaceX's early evening launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Unlike NASA's mission, this mission is paid for by Axiom Space, a Houston-based company transporting its third group of paying passengers to the International Space Station, is contracting with SpaceX for access to and from the orbiting laboratory. Axiom plans to build its own space station in orbit one day and is using these missions to help with planning and designs.

The mission's launch attempt was canceled on Wednesday several hours before its scheduled flight. SpaceX and Axiom said they needed additional time “to complete pre-launch checks and data analysis, including the parachute system's power modulator.” And the next day SpaceX said“All systems look good when launched today,” he said, without elaborating.

The capsule will spend the next 36 hours racing to catch up with the International Space Station as it orbits about 250 miles above Earth. After docking, the crew will spend two weeks in the orbiting laboratory Conduct about 30 experimentsincluding “microgravity research, technology demonstrations, and outreach engagements,” according to Axiom.

This mission, called Ax-3, is flown on an aircraft SpaceX Crew Dragon Spacecraft name freedom. The capsule has flown into space twice previously and went to the International Space Station each time (Crew-4 in 2022 and Ax-2 in 2023). freedom He spent a total of 179 days in space.

Ax-3 crew led by Axiom astronaut Michael Lopez Alegria (Dual US-Spanish citizen, former NASA astronaut and International Space Station commander). He will serve as the pilot of the Ax-3 and will be joined by three paying passengers: pilot Walter Velade of the Italian Air Force, and mission specialists Albert Gezeravci of Turkey and Markus Wandt of Sweden and the European Space Agency.

For Gezaravci, the first Turkish astronaut to go into space, “This space flight is not a destination but a journey. This is just the beginning of our journey – of a long and growing space journey in our future.”

The Ax-3 crew will join seven other people currently on the International Space Station

Members of Axiom Space's Ax-3 mission (from left to right), Mission Specialist Markus Wandt from Sweden, Mission Specialist Alper Gezeravci from Turkey, Pilot Walter Velade from Italy, and Commander Michael Lopez-Alegría from Spain, arrive at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on January 18, 2024.

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