Watch SpaceX’s Ax-3 astronaut mission arrive at ISS early Jan. 20 (Image Credit: Space.com)
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom will arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) early Saturday morning (Jan. 20) with the four astronauts of the private Ax-3 mission, and you can watch the action live.
Ax-3 launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday (Jan. 18), kicking off a roughly 36-hour orbital pursuit. That chase is scheduled to end Saturday at around 4:19 a.m. EST (0919 GMT), when Freedom docks to the forward port on the station’s Harmony module.
You can watch the rendezvous and docking activities here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency. Coverage will begin Saturday at 2:30 a.m. EST (0730 GMT).
Ax-3 is the third crewed mission to the ISS organized by the Houston company Axiom Space. It carries Axiom’s first all-European crew, including the first astronaut from the nation of Turkey, mission specialist Alper Gezeravcı. He is joined by Ax-3 mission commander and former NASA astronaut Michael “L.A.” López-Alegría (who has dual U.S. and Spanish citizenship), mission pilot and Italian Air Force Col. Walter Villadei, and mission specialist Marcus Wandt of the European Space Agency.
The hatches between the ISS and the Freedom capsule are scheduled to open about 90 minutes after docking, allowing the Ax-3 quartet to float aboard the orbiting lab.
While aboard, Ax-3 crewmembers will live and work alongside the station’s current residents, performing experiments for a variety of research investigations. Much of the science included on Axiom’s first two crewed missions focused on human spaceflight and habitability in microgravity environments, and this latest mission continues that trend.
Ax-3 research includes robotics experiments with high-strength alloys, with implications for in-space construction and assemblies; an experiment from Turkey called Vokalkord, which uses artificial intelligence algorithms to diagnose several dozen diseases by analyzing a cough or someone’s speech; and many other investigations into physics, biology and microgravity.
The Ax-3 crew are scheduled to spend up to 14 days aboard the orbital laboratory, after which the astronauts and their SpaceX capsule will depart the ISS and come back to Earth with a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida.