Awaiting Dragon’s Arrival: Expedition 70 Readies for Four Private Ax-3 Astronauts

Ax-3 SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on the Ax-3 mission to the space station. Credit: SpaceX

The seven-member Expedition 70 crew will welcome the third private astronaut mission from Axiom Space to the International Space Station on Saturday. The Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) mission lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday carrying four astronauts aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The foursome will conduct a two-week research and education mission on the orbital outpost.

Station Flight Engineers Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli, both from NASA, will be on duty monitoring Dragon when it begins its automated approach and rendezvous. Dragon will dock to the forward port on the station’s Harmony module at around 4:19 a.m. EST on Saturday. About an hour-and-a-half later, the hatches will open and Ax-3 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria will enter the space station followed by Pilot Walter Villadei and Mission Specialists Alper Gezeravci and Marcus Wandt.

SpaceX Dragon Freedom Spacecraft Docked to Space Station

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft is pictured docked to the space-facing port on the International Space Station’s Harmony module. Dragon Freedom carried four Axiom Mission-2 astronauts to the orbital lab on May 22, 2023, including Commander Peggy Whitson, Pilot John Shoffner, and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi. Credit: NASA

Coverage will air live beginning at 2:30 a.m. Saturday on the NASA+ streaming service, NASA TV, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms, including social media.

Lopez-Alegria, a dual citizen of the United States and Spain, is making his second visit to the station as a private astronaut from Axiom Space. This will be Lopez-Alegria’s sixth time to space. The three other Ax-3 crew members, Villadei from Italy, Gezeravci from Turkey, and Wandt from Sweden, are each making their first flight to space.

O’Hara and Moghbeli had light duty on the orbital outpost on Friday ahead of a busy day of dual crew operations on Saturday. The two NASA astronauts began Friday with housecleaning tasks and computer maintenance before taking the afternoon off. Astronauts Andreas Mogensen from ESA (European Space Agency) and Satoshi Furukawa from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) helped out with the lab tidying duties before splitting up to service science hardware and tablet computers. The ESA and JAXA duo also had a light duty day taking half the day off at the end of the week.

Cloud-Covered Indian Ocean Northeast of Madagascar

A cloud-covered Indian Ocean, illuminated about an hour before sunset, is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 260 miles above just off the northeast coast of the island nation of Madagascar. Credit: NASA

The station’s three cosmonauts from Roscosmos stayed busy throughout Friday focusing on their schedule of science and maintenance. Five-time station flight engineer Oleg Kononenko started his day installing software on a computer in the Nauka science module and then inspected surfaces inside the Zvezda service module. Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub jogged on a treadmill for a fitness assessment before studying how magnetic and electrical fields affect fluid physics. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov spent his day on a variety of life support and orbital plumbing work in the space station’s Roscosmos segment.

Be the first to comment on "Awaiting Dragon’s Arrival: Expedition 70 Readies for Four Private Ax-3 Astronauts"

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.