Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO, has retweeted a picture of its Falcon 9 rocket launching Ax 2 mission to the International Space Station ISS, to wish Twitterati on independence day.
The image, taken by spaceflight photographer John Kraus, depicts the Falcon 9 taking off in the backdrop of a waving American flag. The image was taken by Kraus with a Nikon Z 9 camera and an 800 mm lens.
The photo was retweeted by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who led the mission's four-member crew. It was fitting that Dragon Freedom was on top of that Falcon 9 she wrote, adding that it was an exhilarating feeling of freedom for the crew as they left Earth. Axiom Space's second private astronaut mission to the ISS was Ax 2.
On May 21st, SpaceX successfully launched Ax - 2 to the ISS. The four-member crew of Peggy Whitson, John Shoffner, Ali Alqarni, and Rayyanah Barnawi spent 10 days in space conducting research experiments and returned to earth on May 30 aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft named Freedom.
The mission was a run-up to Axiom's long-term aim to have an Axiom Station ready to operate as the ISS privately owned successor by 2028. The third private astronaut mission, the Ax - 3, is expected to launch no earlier than November 2023 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft marked its 10th spaceflight, while SpaceX's Dragon was its first human spaceflight.