Axiom Space’s third private astronaut crew to visit the International Space Station (ISS) returned safely to Earth on Friday after staying in orbit for more than two weeks.
Walter Villadei, Alper Gezeravcı, and Marcus Wandt, as well as professional astronaut Michael López-Alegría, left the orbital outpost on Wednesday, four days later than originally planned due to poor weather conditions at the landing site off the coast of Daytona, Florida.
A day after exiting the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that brought him home, Wandt, a native of Sweden, shared a video on social media entitled “Space waltz.”
Wandt, who spends much of his time on the ISS conducting science research and taking stunning photos of Earth, said the video shows him practicing various maneuvers that help him glide more easily through the station in microgravity conditions.
“This training prepared me for most of my assignments during Muninn Mission on the space station,” Wandt wrote. “But one thing that’s hard to train is the feeling of microgravity, or how much I have to push myself to get my body to produce the speed I want, or how I turn a corner in a good way, or how I reposition myself. It was hard to train, so I had to train a little bit there.”
But one thing that is difficult to train is the feeling of microgravity, or how much I have to push myself to get my body to the speed I want, or… pic.twitter.com/bqoeiK9bF6
— Marcus Wandt (@astro_marcus) February 11, 2024
Although López-Alegría was contracted by Axiom Space for her trip to the ISS, the other three seats were purchased by national agencies and not by wealthy individuals, as was the case with Axiom Space’s first two private orbital missions.
Quite a few privately funded missions have flown to the ISS over the years, but most were organized by the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, and carried out using the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The Axiom Space mission, on the other hand, uses SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, launched from US soil.
NASA launched efforts to organize its private orbital journey in 2019 after establishing a partnership with Texas-based Axiom Space.
The space agency said the benefits of this initiative include reducing the cost of access to the low-Earth orbit economy, and expanding the range of commercial activities that can be conducted at the orbital laboratory some 250 miles above Earth.
Axiom Space flew its first private aircraft to the ISS in April 2022, while the next flight is planned for October this year.