Second private mission to the ISS launched

Cape Canaveral. A group of space tourists left for the International Space Station on Sunday. The “Dragon” capsule of the space company SpaceX by tech billionaire Elon Musk should probably reach its destination on Monday. The second private flight of this kind to the ISS was organized by the private US space company Axiom Space, which together with SpaceX and the US space agency Nasa brought space tourists to the space station for the first time last year.

Also on board were a stem cell researcher and an Air Force pilot from Saudi Arabia. Researcher Rajjanah Barnaui is the first woman from the Kingdom to take part in a flight into space. She and Air Force pilot Ali al-Karni are also the first representatives of her country to do so since 1985. At that time, a Saudi prince was launched on board the space shuttle Discovery as part of NASA’s space program on a space flight.

Ex-Nasa astronaut: “It was a phenomenal flight”

“It’s a dream that has come true for everyone,” said Barnaui before departure on Sunday. “Just being able to understand that this is possible. If me and Ali can do it, so can they.” Leading the mission was former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who now works for Axiom Space. The former First Commander of the ISS holds her country’s record for the longest total stay in space with 665 days until Sunday. Also on board was US businessman John Shoffner, who owns a racing team and is a former racing driver.

Barnaui, the Saudi pioneer, obviously enjoyed the view of the earth from the endless expanse. “Hello from space! It feels incredible to see Earth from this capsule,” she said after entering orbit. Al-Karni spoke of the “beginning of a great journey for all of us”. Whitson declared, “It was a phenomenal flight,” to enthusiastic applause from fellow passengers.

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Guests will have access to most areas of the ISS, conduct experiments, photograph Earth, and connect with school children on Earth during their stay on the space station of just over a week. After long eschewing space tourism, Nasa now welcomes it with two private missions planned each year.

Axiom did not say what Shoffner and Saudi Arabia had to pay for the mission, which was designed to last about ten days. With a view to the first private flight to the ISS, however, there was talk of a ticket price of $ 55 million.


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