Knoxville man takes SpaceX rocket on Axiom Space mission

John Shoffner took to the skies on Axiom Space’s Ax-2 Mission to the International Space Station.
John Shoffner will pilot Axiom Space’s Ax-2 Mission to the International Space Station.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 6:23 PM EDT|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 9:36 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knoxville businessman, John Shoffner, took to the skies Sunday on Axiom Space’s Ax-2 mission to the International Space Station.

The mission will help develop infrastructure for Axiom Space’s future module at the International Space Station (ISS). Shoffner said it’s a dream a lifetime in the making. “Kids fall in love with something, and for me it was always space,” he said.

Shoffner grew up in Middlesboro, KY, and lives in Knoxville when he is not in training at NASA in Houston or SpaceX in California.

As a child, he always wondered what it would be like to see the world from the stars. “I’ve felt like I’ve been an astronaut my entire life,” he told WVLT in March.

Axiom Space, a private space travel company, is making the dream a reality. To qualify for a mission, private astronauts had to pay for their mission, undergo health exams and then train for 15 weeks with NASA.

“I’m excited to get the mission started, experience the drama and excitement of a launch in the countdown,” Shoffner said.

During his ten days in space, Shoffner and his four-person crew will test and train systems that will be used for Axiom Space’s future missions.

As a STEM advocate, Shoffner is hosting an art and poetry contest for students around the world. The winners will have their work displayed in space.

Shoffner was joined by two of Saudi Arabia’s first astronauts in decades.