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SpaceX Launches Private Mission to ISS, With First Saudi Woman in Space on Board

A SpaceX Flacon 9 rocket launched four private astronauts into orbit on Sunday, May 21, for a mission organized by Houston-based company Axiom Space.

NASA released footage of the rocket taking off from its Kennedy Space Center. It was Axiom’s second private flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

The crew were expected to dock at the ISS on Monday.

The mission was led by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, now an Axiom employee, who became the first female commander of a private space mission.

With her on board were stem-cell researcher Rayyanah Barnawi, the first woman from Saudi Arabia to travel to space; Saudi Air Force pilot Ali Alqarni; and American businessman John Shoffner.

According to CNBC, Axiom has not said how much Shoffner and Saudi Arabia paid for the mission. Credit: NASA via Storyful

Video transcript

- T-minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Engines full power. And liftoff Falcon 9, go active.

- It's one alpha.

- Copy one alpha.

- Together we expand what is possible in low Earth orbit. Ad Astra and Godspeed Ax-2.

- T-minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Engines full power. And liftoff Falcon 9, go active.

- It's one alpha.

- Copy one alpha.

- Together we expand what is possible in low Earth orbit. Ad Astra and Godspeed Ax-2.