After their brief stint aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the crew of the Axiom space mission 2 (Ax-2) returned to Earth with a changed view of the planet we call home.
“Can you believe we landed less than 48 hours ago?Ax-2 Commander Peggy Whitson said during a press conference Thursday. “It still amazes me to think about it, but everything was so fast.”
Axiom Space launched its second special mission to the International Space Station on May 21. After spending 10 days on the space station, the Ax-2 crew landed aboard the Dragon spacecraft, name of the thing freedomoff the coast of Panama City, Florida, On May 30th. The crew was led by veteran astronaut Whitson, director of human spaceflight at Axiom Space, with two mission specialists from The first class of Saudi astronautsAnd Ali Al-Qarni, Rayana Barnawi, and pilot John Schofner, who He bought his ticket to the International Space Station by Axiom Space in 2021. Aside from Whitson, who spent a record-breaking 675 days in space, the three remaining crew members have never made the trip to low Earth orbit.
“What I was really longing for was to feel the launch itself, how dynamic it is, how aggressive or soft it is,” Al Qarni said during Thursday’s press conference. “I was surprised after the main booster detached, the rocket adjusted its pitch and started accelerating and all the forces pushed us against the seat, it was very amazing to feel.”
Once at the space station, the crew got down to business on more than 20 different experiences in a microgravity environment. The Ax-2 crew still took time to marvel at the sight of Earth as the International Space Station orbited about 254 miles (408 kilometers) above the surface. This view of the pale blue dot left a huge impression on first-time astronauts. “Just seeing that thin layer that protects the whole world and how we are supposed to take care of this planet,” Al-Barnawi said during the press conference. “It made me think of every little thing we do on earth to hurt her.”
She added, “To be able to see all countries become just continents, and continents become a whole world that we need to care about, that’s a completely new perception for me.” Al-Qarni echoed similar sentiments, describing Earth as “this fragile globe that is spinning in suspended space and darkness and we need to take care of it.”
The two Saudi astronauts were the first from their country to visit the International Space Station, with Bernawi becoming the first woman from the Arab world to reach space. The two astronauts described their happiness at seeing the Gulf state below from their vantage point aboard the International Space Station. “The first night, as soon as we got on the plane, we were lucky to fly over the western coast of Saudi Arabia, and we were very excited,” Al-Qarni said. “We were like little kids… It was just so amazing.”
The feeling of being in space seems addictive. Astronaut Whitson has also long expressed a desire to return to Earth orbit. Asked if Whitson is ready for her next trip into space, the former NASA astronaut replies, “Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s go!”
Ax-2 was the follow-up to The first private Axiom Space mission to the International Space StationAx-1, which was launched in April 2022. After the return of Ax-1, NASA has admitted that it has learned some important lessons About the presence of special crews on board the space station. Ax-1 crew too He complained that there was so much to do on the space station And she does not have enough time to absorb everything. The Ax-2 seems to have gone a little better than its predecessor, with this crew of four astronauts having no complaints.
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