NASA approves first private astronauts for Axiom mission to International Space Station


" data-gt-translate-attributes="[{" attribute="">Nasa and its international partners have approved crew members for Axiom Space’s first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. The flight, called Axiom Mission 1 or Ax-1, is scheduled to launch Wednesday, March 30 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a proven flight SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The crew of Ax-1 will fly on Crew Dragon Endeavor to and from the space station. After 10 days in orbit, the crew of the Ax-1 will be grounded off Florida.

Axiom Space astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe are the main crew members of the Ax-1 mission. López-Alegría, who was born in Spain, raised in California and a former NASA astronaut, will serve as mission commander. Connor, of Dayton, Ohio, will serve as pilot. Pathy, from Canada, and Stibbe, from Israel, will serve as mission specialists. The quartet are to spend eight days aboard the orbiting laboratory conducting scientific, educational and business activities before returning to Earth.

Axiom 1 mission astronauts

Axiom 1 mission astronauts Larry Connor, left, Michael López-Alegría, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe, right. Astronauts have passed medical evaluations and are approved by the Multilateral Crew Operations Committee. Credit: Axiom Space

“This represents another important step in our efforts to create an economy in low Earth orbit,” said Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight at NASA. “I wish these Axiom crew members safe travels, and I hope they find their time in space productive and enjoyable.”

Proposed mission activities are still under review and will be approved prior to the flight. Axiom previously revealed a portfolio of microgravity research that the Ax-1 crew intends to undertake in orbit in partnership with various organizations on Earth. This research is sponsored by the ISS US National Laboratory.

“The goal of the Ax-1 crew is to set a standard for all future private astronaut missions in terms of readiness and professionalism,” López-Alegría said. “As commander, I am proud of the work done by these crew members to be ready to carry out meaningful work on the International Space Station and happy to see them meet the standards required for all astronauts who travel to the station. Since Expedition 1. Ax-1 has been focusing on a tremendous amount of science and outreach activities, and we look forward to finalizing this flight program.

SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station

In this illustration, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station for docking. The Ax-1 crew will fly the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour. Credit: NASA/SpaceX

The AX-1 crew has been training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and other NASA facilities since August 2021 to familiarize themselves with station systems, science facilities, and operating procedures. ’emergency. The crew also trained with NASA’s international space station partners at ESA (European Space Agency), as well as with launch contractor SpaceX at its facilities in Hawthorne, California, and other locations in preparation for the mission.

NASA and Axiom mission operations teams began joint simulations in December to familiarize themselves with the dynamic phases of private astronaut flight to and from the space station. Joint simulations will continue in preparation for launch.

NASA continues to make rapid progress in its efforts to build a robust economy in low Earth orbit. The agency recently announced its selection of Axiom Space to begin negotiations for the second private astronaut mission. NASA also recently announced its selection of companies to develop designs for space stations and other commercial destinations in low Earth orbit.

Prior to these new awards, NASA selected Axiom Space in January 2020 to design and develop commercial modules to attach to the station. Axiom recently completed the preliminary design review of two modules as well as the critical design review of the main structure of the modules with the participation of NASA. Flight hardware for the first Axiom module is currently being manufactured.

For more than 21 years, NASA has supported a continued American human presence in low Earth orbit aboard the space station. The agency’s goal is to enable a strong commercial market in low Earth orbit with private industry where NASA is one of many customers. This strategy will provide the services that the government needs to lower costallowing the agency to focus on its Artemis missions to the Moon in preparation for " data-gt-translate-attributes="[{" attribute="">March while continuing to use low Earth orbit as a training and proving ground for these deep space missions.

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