Washington, May 31 (IANS): Four astronauts, including the first woman from Saudi Arabia, of the American private space habitat company Axiom Space have returned safely to Earth after spending eight days on their second mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the company has said.
The Ax-2 crew aboard the SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft safely splashed down off the coast of Florida at 11.04 p.m. on Tuesday (8.34 a.m. on Wednesday IST).
"The Dragon spacecraft has safely returned to the recovery ship," the company said in a tweet.
"The crew is returning with a plethora of data. The Ax-2 mission is a critical step along the journey toward Axiom Station, the world's first commercial space station!" it added.
The Ax-2 crew included Axiom Space's Director of Human Spaceflight and Commander Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut, Pilot John Shoffner, and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, from the Saudi Space Commission (SSC).
The Ax-2 crew spent eight days aboard the ISS, orbited the Earth 126 times, and travelled 3,331,440 miles.
During the mission, the Ax-2 crew conducted more than 20 research experiments and served as research subjects to better understand the impacts of microgravity on the human body, as well as established methods for the utility of novel technologies that could be used for future human spaceflight pursuits and improving life on Earth.
Additionally, the crew carried out over 20 STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and maths) engagements.
The Ax-2 mission is the first commercial human spaceflight mission to include both private astronauts and astronauts representing foreign governments, as well as the first private mission commanded by a female.
Axiom Space is also facilitating exciting and impactful scientific research and in-space manufacturing via its space missions, and on Axiom Station in the future, to help expand knowledge to benefit life on Earth in areas such as healthcare, materials, technology development, and enable industrial advances.