NASA announced Wednesday that it had approved crew members to Axiom Space’s first private astronaut mission the International Space Station (ISS).
Axiom mission 1, also known as the spaceflight, is scheduled to take off on March. 30 passengers will be transported to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida by a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket.
Axiom Space astronauts Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Michael Lopez-Alegria and Eytan Stebbe are part of the “Ax-1” crew.
Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut, will be the mission commander. Conner will be the pilot. Mission specialists will be Pathy and Stibbe from Canada and Israel.
The crew will fly on Dragon Endeavour and spend eight days at the orbiting laboratory performing science and education. After 10 days, they will splash down off the coast of Florida.
Although mission activities are still being reviewed, the Houston-based company previously disclosed a microgravity exploration portfolio that the Ax-1 crew plans to conduct in orbit – an effort sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory.
Since August 2021, the crew has been training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston as well as other facilities.
It also trained with NASA’s international space station partners at the European Space Agency, (ESA) as well as launch contractor SpaceX at its facilities at Hawthorne in California.
NASA and Axiom’s mission operations teams started joint simulations in December. They will continue to prepare for launch.
“This is another important milestone in our efforts create a low Earth orbit economy,” Phil McAlister (director of commercial spaceflight at NASA), stated in a statement. “I wish these Axiom crewmembers safe travels and I hope their time in space is productive and enjoyable.”
Lopez-Alegria stated that the Ax-1 crew’s goal was to set an example for private missions, in terms of professionalism and preparation. “As commander, I am proud to have seen these crew members meet the requirements of all astronauts who have flown to the International Space Station since Expedition 1. Ax-1’s mission is to conduct a lot of outreach and science activities. We look forward to completing that flight program.
AxiomSpace was also selected by NASA to start negotiations for its second private astronaut mission. Ax-2 will launch in fall 2022 or late spring 2023.
In January 2020 AxiomSpace was selected to design and build commercial modules for the ISS.