The launch was supposed to have taken place yesterday evening, but due to two problems identified during pre-launch checks, it was decided to postpone it by (approximately) a day to this evening. It's about the Ax-3 mission From Axiom space aimed at the International Space Stationthe US company's third private mission carried out in collaboration with the NASA And SpaceX. The second, Ax-2, was launched in May 2023, while the first, Ax-1, departed for the ISS in April 2022.
According to reports in the hours before launch, there were two critical issues that engineers were investigating. One of them concerns the connections that block it Crew Dragon capsule for the Falcon 9 space rocket which apparently was not properly secured. Out of an abundance of caution, as this was a human-manned mission, they were replaced. The second problem concerned the straps connecting the main parachutes used in the return to the capsule. According to the Dragon (cargo version) analysis of the CRS-29 resupply mission, these did not work as planned.
Axiom Space Axe-3: The Italian Walter Villadei on board
After the checks and extraordinary maintenance work that delayed completion begin from that Private mission Ax-3 After a day it was finally possible to see the launch Falcon 9 (Code B1080-5, lo static fire The launch of the space rocket took place on the night of January 17th from launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 10:49 p.m. Italian time today. That was upstairs Crew Dragon C212 Freedom capsule (on her third mission) made her way to the International Space Station. Both the first stage and this space capsule have already been used in the past for the Ax-2 mission, also by Axiom Space. After shutting down the first stage engines and separating the stages, the first stage returned toward Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) and landed 7'35 inches after launch as the spacecraft continued its journey toward the ISS and the second program executed engine shutdown (SECO).
On board the spaceship SpaceX we find Spanish Michael Lopez-Alegraa (Commander), the Italian Walter Villadei (Pilot), the Turk Alper Gezeravc (payload specialist) and the Swede Marcus Wandt (Payload Specialist). Interesting to note that Villadei (part of the Italian Air Force) had already flown in space aboard a Virgin Galactic mission in recent months and was reserve pilot on the Ax-2 mission. Gezeravc Instead, he is the first Turkish astronaut to fly in space Wandt he is the second Swede. For the latter, the candidacy came thanks to ESA and the Swedish Space Agency.
The astronaut with the most experience remains Michael Lopez-Alegràa, who had previously flown three missions with the Space Shuttle (STS-73, STS-92 and STS-113) and one mission with Soyuz for NASA. He later became part of the staff of Axiom space, including the role of commander for the Ax-1 mission. With the Ax-3 mission so he will have flown in space six times.
Before the arrival of thePrivate crew of Ax-3, NASA flight engineer Loral O'Hara (onboard the ISS) organized space aboard the space station to accommodate the new guests. In particular, cleaning work was carried out on the ventilation slots and in the accommodation where the crew will live. Andreas Mogensen (from ESA) instead checked the docking phases of the Crew Dragon spacecraft with the ISS.
As explained on the corresponding page, Axiom space private astronauts will have several carried out Scientific Research which could also benefit the earth. They continue to be carried out on board 30 experiments is dedicated to human physiology and industrial progress. Walter Villadei Specifically, he has to carry out 15 different experiments during the days that he remains on board the ship International Space Station.