SpaceX launches private passengers to space station

U.S. private space company SpaceX launched another crew of private astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday.

The Dragon spacecraft carrying the four-member

crew blasted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:37 p.m. Eastern Time (2137 GMT).

The spacecraft is expected to dock the space-facing port of the ISS Harmony module on Monday.

The crew members are Commander Peggy Whitson, Pilot John Shoffner from the United States and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With this mission, Whitson becomes the first woman to command a private spaceflight.

The crew is scheduled to spend about eight days on the ISS performing over 20 science and technology experiments in areas such as human physiology and physical sciences to help expand knowledge to benefit life on Earth.

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