Axiom Mission 2
A Falcon 9 launches Freedom and the Ax-2 crew to the International Space Station
Mission typePrivate spaceflight to ISS
OperatorAxiom Space
COSPAR ID2023-070A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.56739Edit this on Wikidata
Mission duration9 days, 5 hours and 27 minutes
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeDragon Freedom
Crew size4
Start of mission
Launch date21 May 2023, 21:37 UTC[1]
RocketFalcon 9 Block 5 (B1080.1)
Launch siteKennedy Space Center, LC-39A
End of mission
Recovered byMV Megan
Landing date31 May 2023, 03:04 UTC
Landing siteGulf of Mexico
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Docking with ISS
Docking portHarmony zenith
Docking date22 May 2023, 13:12 UTC
Undocking date30 May 2023, 15:05 UTC
Time docked8 days, 1 hour and 53 minutes[2]

Axiom Mission 2 patch

(L-R) Whitson, Shoffner, AlQarni and Barnawi 

Axiom Mission 2 (or Ax-2) was a private crewed spaceflight operated by Axiom Space. Ax-2 was launched on 21 May 2023 on a SpaceX Falcon 9, successfully docking with the International Space Station (ISS)on 22 May.[3][2] After eight days docked to the ISS, the Dragon crew capsule Freedom undocked and returned to Earth twelve hours later.[4]

Ax-2 was the second Axiom mission after Axiom Mission 1 in April 2022 and the third private crewed SpaceX Dragon mission.


The crew included former NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson as mission commander and John Shoffner as pilot.[5][6] The two Mission Specialists were Ali AlQarni and Rayyanah Barnawi of the Saudi Space Commission.[7]

Axiom had initially announced in April 2021 that one crew member for the second Axiom spaceflight to the ISS would be selected via Who Wants to Be an Astronaut?, a reality television series to be produced by Discovery Channel.[8][9] On 11 January 2022, Axiom announced Italian Air Force (ItAF) Colonel Walter Villadei as the company’s first international professional astronaut.[10] Col. Villadei was subsequently announced by Axiom as a backup crew member for Ax-2.[11]

On 22 September 2022, Axiom Space announced it would partner with the Saudi Space Commission to send two Saudi astronauts on Ax-2 to research cancer, cloud seeding, and microgravity in space.[12] This mission included the first female Saudi astronaut to go to space.[13]

Prime crew

Position Astronaut
Spacecraft commander United States Peggy Whitson[7], Axiom Space
Fourth spaceflight
Pilot United States John Shoffner[7], Commercial astronaut
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 1 Saudi Arabia Ali AlQarni[7], SSC
First spaceflight
Mission Specialist 2 Saudi Arabia Rayyanah Barnawi[7], SSC
First spaceflight

Backup crew

Position Astronaut
Spacecraft commander United States / Spain Michael López-Alegría[14], Axiom Space
Pilot Italy Walter Villadei[14], Italian Air Force
Mission Specialist 1 Saudi Arabia Ali AlGhamdi[14] SSC
Mission Specialist 2 Saudi Arabia Mariam Fardous[14] SSC


Axiom 2 lifted off on 21 May 2023 from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, onboard a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket. For the first time on a crew mission, the first stage of Falcon 9 landed on land at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station's Landing Zone 1 instead of the more common at-sea recovery typical of crew flights. The mission, which was the second flight of Crew Dragon Freedom, docked with the International Space Station a day later.

During the mission, the crew performed public outreach activities along with scientific research, including studies into the effects of microgravity on stem cells and other biological experiments.[15]

After eight days docked to the ISS, Axiom 2 undocked and returned to Earth twelve hours later. Freedom splashed down successfully in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida. It was recovered by SpaceX's recovery ship Megan.[4]


See also


  1. ^ Baylor, Michael. "Falcon 9 Block 5 - Axiom Mission 2 (AX-2)". Next Spaceflight. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  2. ^ a b "NASA Selects Second Private Astronaut Mission to Space Station". NASA. 13 December 2021. Retrieved 14 December 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ "SpaceX Dragon capsule docks at space station with private Ax-2 astronaut crew (Video)". 22 May 2023.
  4. ^ a b Gorman, Steve (31 May 2023). "Private astronaut crew, including first Arab woman in orbit, returns from space station". Reuters. Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  5. ^ Harwood, William (25 May 2021). "Whitson to command planned commercial flight to space station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  6. ^ "Record-holding astronaut Peggy Whitson and mission pilot John Shoffner to lead Axiom Space's Ax-2 mission to enable new research in space". Axiom Space. 25 May 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e Heidler, Scott. "Ax-2 mission set to launch four private astronauts from Cape Canaveral". WESH2. Retrieved 21 May 2023.
  8. ^ Etherington, Darrell (18 April 2021). "Discovery's new reality show 'Who Wants to Be an Astronaut?' will pick one winner to go to space". TechCrunch. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  9. ^ De La Cruz, Lia (20 May 2021). "Now casting nationwide: Discovery Channel's Who Wants to Be an Astronaut". EarthSky. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  10. ^ "Axiom Space to train Italian Air Force's Col. Walter Villadei as professional astronaut for future space mission". Axiom Space. 11 January 2022. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Axiom Space and Italian Government Sign Historic MOU to Expand Commercial Utilization of Space". Axiom Space. 25 May 2022. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  12. ^ Bell, Jennifer (23 March 2023). "Saudi astronauts to research cancer, cloud seeding, microgravity in space". Al Arabiya English. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  13. ^ "Axiom Space Partners with Saudi Space Commission to Send First Female Saudi Astronaut to Space". Axiom Space. 22 September 2022. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  14. ^ a b c d Obeid, Ghinwa (17 April 2023). "Alarabiya News". Saudi Crown Prince meets with Kingdom’s Axiom Mission 2 crew ahead of launch. Retrieved 21 May 2023.
  15. ^ Lewis, Russell; Archie, Ayana (31 May 2023). "SpaceX mission returns from space station with ex-NASA astronaut, 3 paying customers". NPR. Retrieved 31 May 2023.