mission longest private flight for Axiom Space by SpaceX since missions began in 2022
Axiom Mission 3 launched on Jan. 18 to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center aboard SpaceX’s Dragon Freedom spacecraft.
After undocking from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Feb. 7, the Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) crew safely splashed down off the coast of Daytona Beach, Florida aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at 8:30 a.m. ET on Feb. 9, 2024.
The Ax-3 crew’s return officially concludes the first all-European commercial astronaut mission and Axiom Space’s third crewed mission to the ISS.
The Ax-3 crewmembers include Commander Michael López-Alegría of the U.S. and Spain, Pilot Walter Villadei of the Italian Air Force, and Mission Specialists Alper Gezeravcı of Türkiye and Marcus Wandt of Sweden and the European Space Agency (ESA).
“The successful return of our Ax-3 astronauts signifies more than just the completion of a human spaceflight mission; it marks a pivotal moment in commercial space exploration and significant milestone for Europe’s pursuits in low-Earth orbit,” said Axiom Space CEO Michael Suffredini.
“Axiom Space’s first three commercial missions to the ISS are a testament to international advancement in space, with diverse crews representing eight nations, as well as — for the first time on Ax-3 — the European Space Agency. The success of these missions is an important step along our journey toward Axiom Station, underscoring our continuous efforts to expand access to low-Earth orbit.”
During their 18-day mission docked to the ISS, the Ax-3 crew lived and worked aboard the orbiting laboratory conducting more than 30 different experiments and more than 50 outreach engagements. Human research data collected on the ground before and after the mission, as well as in flight, will improve understanding of human physiology on Earth and in microgravity.
Ax-3 demonstrates that the European community of space-faring nations are pioneers in the burgeoning commercial space industry. The crew and the governments they represent are taking bold steps into a new era of leadership in low-Earth orbit.
Ax-3 celebrates many firsts: it was the first commercial spaceflight mission comprised of government and ESA-sponsored national astronauts; Mission Specialist Alper Gezeravcı became the first-ever Turkish astronaut; and Mission Specialist Marcus Wandt was the first ESA project astronaut to fly on a commercial space mission.
Ax-3 is the third in a series of proposed Axiom Space human spaceflight missions, marking a critical milestone toward the realization of Axiom Station — the world’s first commercial space station.
Axiom Space is playing an important role in offering human spaceflight opportunities to the larger international community. These missions are enabling governments, individuals, researchers, academic institutions, and organizations across the world to conduct comprehensive scientific research, technology demonstrations, and outreach engagements in the unique environment of microgravity.
Axiom Space’s first three missions to the ISS included crewmembers from the U.S., Spain, Israel, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Türkiye, and Sweden, with the support of ESA. In addition, last year, Axiom Space signed an MOU with ESA and the UK Space Agency to explore future human spaceflight opportunities.
Axiom Space plans to launch its fourth mission, Axiom Mission 4 (Ax-4), to the ISS no earlier than October 2024 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
WATCH: The Axiom Mission 3 launched on Jan. 18 to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center aboard SpaceX’s Dragon Freedom spacecraft.