Published: 15:21, May 31, 2023 | Updated: 15:21, May 31, 2023
US private astronauts conclude mission to space station
By Xinhua

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon capsule and a crew of four private astronauts, lifts off from pad 39A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, May 21, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

LOS ANGELES - SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft carrying Axiom Space's four private astronauts safely splashed down off the coast of the US state of Florida on Tuesday, concluding the second all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station.

The Dragon spacecraft autonomously undocked from the ISS at 11:05 am Eastern Time (1605 GMT) Tuesday. After about 12 hours' travel, the spacecraft re-entered Earth's atmosphere and made splashdown off the coast of Florida at 11:04 pm Eastern Time (0404 GMT Wednesday).

During the mission, the crew conducted more than 20 research experiments and served as research subjects to better understand the impacts of microgravity on the human body, as well as established methods for the utility of novel technologies that could be used for future human spaceflight pursuits

Aboard the spacecraft are astronauts Peggy Whitson, John Shoffner, Ali Alqarni, and Rayyanah Barnawi, who flew to the space station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 21.

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The crew spent eight days aboard the ISS and orbited the Earth 126 times, traveling 3,331,440 5,330,304 km.

During the mission, the crew conducted more than 20 research experiments and served as research subjects to better understand the impacts of microgravity on the human body, as well as established methods for the utility of novel technologies that could be used for future human spaceflight pursuits and improving life on Earth, according to Axiom Space.

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The mission, codenamed Ax-2, is Axiom Space's second all-private astronaut mission to the ISS following the first mission in 2022.