Axiom-2 Crew returns to Earth after 10 days in space

Crew Dragon Freedom aboard recovery ship Megan following Axiom-2 splashdown (Credit SpaceX)

Following an 8-day stay aboard the International Space Station, the Axiom-2 crew made a fiery plunge back through Earth’s atmosphere to a splashdown just off the coast of Panama City, Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico.

This was the second flight of Crew Dragon Freedom, previously supporting the launch and landing of the Crew 4 mission.

Crew Dragon Freedom awaits being lifted onto the recovery ship in the Gulf of Mexico (Credit SpaceX)

About 12 hours after undocking from the International Space Station, Crew Dragon Freedom splashed down at 11:04 PM ET. SpaceX recovery ship was awaiting the crew, and shortly after landing, they were disembarked and flown to Houston via helicopter.

The crew of Axiom 2 consisted of Commander Peggy Whitson, Pilot John Shoffner, Mission Specialist Ali Alqarni, and Mission Specialist Rayyanah Barnawi, and while aboard the orbiting outpost, they performed many experiments ranging from cancer research, effects of microgravity on stem cells, and how the human body responds to space travel.

Commander Peggy Whitson extended her record of time in space to 675 days, the most of any American, previously flying for NASA before retiring in 2018 and then joining Axiom as Director of Human Space Flight. The 3 other members of this mission each on their first flight to space, received their Astronaut Wings during the welcoming ceremony after arriving aboard the ISS.

Another aspect of this mission is also preparing for Axiom to start sending up their own modules to attach to the Internation Space Station starting no earlier than 2025. Axiom recently took ownership of the former Space Shuttle Multi-Purpose Logistics Module and will convert it to use as their research and manufacturing facility once in orbit.

There could be up to 4 modules sent to be attached to the ISS, and once the ISS is decommissioned, they will separate from the outpost and form their own space station and could become the first privately owned space station.

Render of Axiom Station attached to the ISS (Credit Axiom)

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Axiom-2 Crew returns to Earth after 10 days in space
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