The crew of the Ax-3 mission, the first entirely European one to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a private spacecraft last January, successfully returned to Florida this Friday. The SpaceX Dragon capsule fell this morning around 8:30 local time (13:30 GMT) supported by parachutes and in a controlled manner in waters near the coast of Daytona Beach, in northeastern Florida (USA), a landing that culminated a two-day journey since it separated from the ISS last Wednesday.
Minutes after falling into the Atlantic, a boat recovered the capsule from the sea using a crane and the mission crew, who was commanded by the Spanish-American and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, left the ship. The CEO of Axiom Space, Michael Suffredini, pointed out this Friday that the successful return of the Ax-3 not only represents the completion of a manned mission, but “marks a crucial moment in commercial space exploration and an important milestone for Europe’s efforts in low Earth orbit.”
The mission, which is the third manned mission for the American firm Axiom Space, and the first commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA), culminates today an expedition during which it spent 18 days on the ISS. The crew of the mission, which arrived at the space station on January 20, completed with the Italian Walter Villadei (pilot) and the specialists Alper Gezeravci, the first Turk to travel into space, and Marcus Wandt, from Sweden.
During their stay in the orbital laboratory, the members of the mission, of which NASA has also been a part, have carried out more than thirty scientific experiments in microgravity, among others on stem cells or cancer, as well as more than 50 scientific dissemination events. The SpaceX Dragon returns to Earth with more than 249 kilograms of cargo, including NASA hardware and data from more than 30 different experiments the crew conducted during their mission.
NASA maintains a program through which it commissions and promotes missions such as Ax-3, which are opening access to low Earth orbit for private industry, at the same time that the US agency concentrates its efforts on long-term missions. scope, such as establishing a base on the Moon and sending the first manned mission to Mars.
Axiom Space was created in 2016 with the aim of exploiting the emerging market for commercial activities in low Earth orbit, from tourism to manufacturing. The commercial company private plans to operate its own space station, which it will begin building as part of the ISS and with the goal of launching its first module in 2026. EFE ims-lce/enb (photo) (video)
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