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Arrival of Ax-3 Crew to International Space Station Celebrated

Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3), the first all-European commercial astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), successfully reached their destination and will begin their planned 14-day mission on the orbiting laboratory.

After seamlessly docking to the ISS, the Ax-3 crewmembers, Commander Michael López-Alegría of the U.S. and Spain, Pilot Walter Villadei of the Italian Air Force, Mission Specialist Alper Gezeravc? of Türkiye, and Mission Specialist Marcus Wandt of Sweden and the European Space Agency (ESA), entered the space station at 7:15am ET on January 20th.

As a symbolic gesture, Commander López-Alegría ceremoniously adorned his fellow crewmates with the official astronaut pin, marking the crew’s formal commencement of becoming astronauts. López-Alegría presented his crewmates with their official astronaut pins, declaring Gezeravc to be the 676th and Wandt the 677th to go to space. Villadei became number 666 during his Virgin Galactic flight on Jun. 29, 2023.

During the Ax-3 welcome ceremony, ESA astronaut and ISS Expedition 70 Commander Andreas Mogensen said, “This is an incredibly exciting time for human spaceflight with the third private mission, which is allowing many more countries to participate in the scientific research and technology development that we do onboard this orbiting laboratory. We have doubled the number of nationalities onboard the space station, going from four to eight. I am also very proud as a European to welcome four other Europeans. I think this the first time in the history of the space station that we have five Europeans onboard at the same time.”

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, carrying the Ax-3 astronauts, embarked on its voyage to space atop a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Central Florida.

During their time aboard the space station, the Ax-3 crew will conduct a diverse array of over 30 experiments spanning various fields in science and technology. These endeavors aim to propel advancements in human spaceflight and contribute to enhancing life on our home planet. Ax-3 stands as the third among multiple proposed Axiom Space human spaceflight missions, laying the groundwork for Axiom Station, which is set to become the world’s first commercial space station.

The mission is scheduled to conclude on February 3rd with undocking, culminating in a splashdown off the coast of Florida aboard the Dragon spacecraft.

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