First all-European commercial space mission to the ISS launches from Florida

first all-European private trade mission Bound for the International Space Station (ISS) successfully launched this Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in central Florida under the command of Spanish-American Michael Lopez-Alegria.

The Ax-3 mission of the American company Axion Space launched from four crew members on board at 16:49 local time (21:49 GMT) from Cape Canaveral and will aim to conduct more than thirty scientific experiments in microgravity conditions on the ISS, including the study of stem cells and cancer. For the first time, the crew that will stay at the orbital outpost for 14 days is entirely European.

In addition to Lopez-Alegria, the mission will include Italian Walter Villaday (pilot) and specialists Alper Gezeravci, the first Turk to fly in space, as well as Markus Wandt from Sweden. Ax-3 took off on schedule on an 8-meter Dragon capsule powered by reusable two-stage 70-meter Falcon 9 rocketBoth are from Elon Musk’s private commercial company SpaceX. The precise takeoff of the rocket after completing the engine cooling, cleaning and launching stages was greeted with applause and applause from the control room.

In just three minutes, The ship entered space at a speed of 3500 km/h. and it was separated from the reusable first stage, which completed its return flight and successfully landed on a floating platform in the Atlantic, off the coast of Florida. And about 15 minutes later, the second stage of the rocket was released, at which time the four astronauts smiled and gave thumbs up.

“Congratulations to Axiom and SpaceX on their successful launch! Together with our commercial partners, NASA supports the growing commercial space economy and the future of space technology,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Thursday. Nelson stressed that this is “the first fully European commercial astronaut mission to the space station”, which is proof that “the possibilities of space unite us all.”

The crew of a commercial mission sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) will conduct scientific research related to life sciences, human psychology and advances in industrial technology. Some of the results could be used to identify new treatments, for example against cancer at an early stage when it is still curable.

If all goes well, 36 hours after liftoff from Cape Canaveral at 04:49 local time (0949 GMT) on Saturday, the capsule will dock with the space station, which has been in orbit since 1998 and will operate until 2030. . The hatches between Dragon and the ISS are expected to open after 1100 GMT, allowing the Axiom crew to enter the station, where its seven passengers will be greeted with a welcome ceremony and begin their journey while remaining in the orbiting laboratory. Ax-3 astronauts will leave the space station on February 3 as planned, subject to weather conditions, to return to Earth and land off the coast of Florida. The private mission will also help advance private development and use of the ISS in this new era and create a strong and sustainable market in low Earth orbit (LEO).

This fifth flight of the first stage of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and third flight of the Dragon spacecraft, seating 7 passengers and carrying significant cargo to Earth. Former Spanish-American NASA astronaut Lopez-Alegria, 65, already led Axiom’s first commercial mission in 2022, when he spent 17 days on the ISS. For this occasion, he will stay on the aforementioned space station for two weeks. The reusable Falcon 9 rocket costs $67 million, and SpaceX is offering multi-launch discounts as well as crew transportation services to commercial customers looking to fly astronauts to LEO. Axiom Space was created in 2016 to exploit the emerging market for commercial activities in low Earth orbit, from tourism to manufacturing. The private commercial company plans to operate its own space station, the construction of which it will begin as part of the ISS with the goal of launching the first module in 2026. The mission was supposed to take off this Wednesday, but those in charge delayed the launch. until today to complete final checks and analysis of vehicle data. NASA’s efforts, including private astronaut missions, are opening up access to low-Earth orbit to private industry, allowing the US agency to become one of many clients of a thriving commercial economy in space. EFE emi/enb (photo)(video)

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