SpaceX Dragon Capsule Arrives at Pad for Ax-3 Astronaut Launch

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SpaceX Dragon Capsule Arrives at Pad for Ax-3 Astronaut Launch

Space News ,U.S :- SpaceX is getting ready for its next exciting astronaut mission, known as Ax-3. The launch is set to happen on January 17 from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will send four people to the International Space Station (ISS).

Recently, SpaceX shared some cool news: the Dragon capsule, which will transport the astronauts to and from the ISS, has just arrived at Pad 39A's hangar. SpaceX even posted pictures of the spacecraft in its new home on X.

Ax-3 is the third mission to the ISS organized by Axiom Space, a company based in Houston. Similar to the two missions before it in April 2022 and May 2023, Ax-3 will use SpaceX hardware, including the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon capsule.

The crew for Ax-3 includes former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, Italian Air Force Col. Walter Villadei (who also flew with Virgin Galactic in June 2023), Marcus Wandt of the European Space Agency, and Alper Gezeravcı, the first citizen of Turkey to reach space.

López-Alegría, who now works for Axiom, will lead the mission. It's interesting to note that NASA requires every private crewed mission to the ISS to be led by a former agency astronaut. López-Alegría, a dual Spanish-American citizen, brings an unprecedented international flair to Ax-3.

In September 2023, López-Alegría shared, "The Ax-3 mission will be transformational, fostering partnerships outside the ISS and positioning European nations as pioneers in the emerging commercial space industry."

Ax-3 marks SpaceX's 12th astronaut mission. Aside from the two Axiom flights, Elon Musk's company has launched eight crewed missions for NASA, including the Demo-2 test flight in 2020, and the private Inspiration4 effort. All these missions visited the ISS, except for Inspiration4, where Dragon flew freely in Earth orbit.

One more SpaceX mission remains at the ISS – Crew-7, a four-person crew that launched last August and is scheduled to return to Earth next month.

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