Watch SpaceX Dragon carrying private Ax-2 astronauts dock with the space station today
Update for 8:30 a.m. EDT: SpaceX, NASA and Axiom Space are now targeting a 9:10 a.m. EDT (1310 GM) docking for the Ax-2 Crew Dragon capsule Freedom, a few minutes ahead of schedule.
A SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying four private astronauts will arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday morning (May 22), and you can watch the action live.
The Dragon, named Freedom, launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday evening (May 21), kicking off the private Ax-2 mission to the orbiting lab.
Freedom is scheduled to dock with the ISS on Monday at 9:24 a.m. EDT (1324 GMT), ending a nearly 17-hour orbital chase. Watch the rendezvous here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency. Coverage will begin at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) and continue through hatch opening at 11:13 a.m. EDT (1513 GMT) and welcoming remarks from ISS astronauts about 30 minutes after that.
Related: Live updates from the Ax-2 private astronaut mission
Ax-2 is commanded by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who now works for Axiom Space, the Houston-based company operating the mission. Businessman and paying customer John Shoffner serves as pilot, and Ali AlQarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, two members of Saudi Arabia’s inaugural astronaut class, are Ax-2 mission specialists. AlQarni and Barnawi will be the first Saudis to visit the ISS, and Barnawi is the first woman from the kingdom ever to reach space.
Whitson has already spent more time in space than any other American astronaut, and with Ax-2 becomes the first woman to command a private spaceflight.
The Ax-2 crew will join the seven members of the current Expedition 69 aboard the ISS. After getting acclimated to the microgravity environment in low Earth orbit, the crew has a busy docket of research investigations, science experiments and educational outreach to occupy their time over the eight-day mission.
Studies into the degradation of mRNA in space, new communications systems and radiation-shielding polymers are amongst more than 20 projects the Ax-2 crew will engage in before they return to Earth at the end of the month.
After undocking from the orbiting lab, Ax-2’s Dragon capsule Freedom will deorbit and splash down off the coast of Florida.