SpaceX launch of private Ax-2 astronauts just put the 600th person in orbit

The 600th person to enter Earth orbit is now on her way to the International Space Station aboard the second commercial mission to fly there.

Rayyanah Barnawi on Sunday (May 21) lifted off with fellow Saudi Space Commission (SSC) astronaut Ali AlQarni, privately funded astronaut John Shoffner of Tennessee and former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson on the second mission organized by Houston-based space services company Axiom Space. The four Axiom 2 (Ax-2) crewmates launched at 5:37 p.m. EDT (2137 GMT) on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft "Freedom" atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Less than nine minutes later, Barnawi and her crewmates began circling the planet. AlQarni and Shoffner are first-time fliers as well, but based on a precedent set in 2021 when the 600th person entered space — a figure that also included suborbital flights — the count is based on the astronauts' mission designations.

As pilot, Shoffner became number 598. AlQarni is number 599, flying as mission specialist 1. As such, Barnawi, as mission specialist 2, claimed the round number. With Barnawi, only 72 women help comprise the 600-person total.

Source: www.space.com


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