Former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is returning to space — this time, on a private ride

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule is seen docked to the International Space Station on May 5th, 2021, shortly before returning four astronauts back to Earth. | Image: NASA / Johnson Space Center

Peggy Whitson, one of NASA’s most experienced retired astronauts, is going back to space — this time with a racecar driver and two other passengers in the latest mission planned by Axiom Space. The Houston-based space company announced on Tuesday that Whitson will serve as the mission commander for its second private flight to the International Space Station, with John Shoffner, a GT racer, serving as mission pilot.

The Ax-2 mission with Whitson and Shoffner will be similar to Ax-1, Axiom’s first planned flight for early next year: a crew of four private citizens will fly to the International Space Station for a roughly eight-day stay conducting scientific research. It’s the latest private spaceflight planned so far as companies like…

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