See: Axiom and SpaceX launch the first completely private crew for the ISS

The American company Axiom Space will send a commercial crew to visit the International Space Station and conduct scientific research there for eight days

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April 5, 2022, updated April 8, 2022

Update: The first completely private trip to the International Space Station (ISS) was successfully launched on April 8, 2022 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The mission, organized by an American company called Axiom Space, will be manned by a retired NASA astronaut now employed by the company and three wealthy entrepreneurs who will stay aboard the ISS for eight days.

The astronaut, Michael López-Alegría, will be the commander of the Ax-1 mission. During his career at NASA, he flew aboard the space shuttle three times and visited the ISS once. He performed 10 spacewalks during these missions, the most of any NASA astronaut to date.

The pilot of the mission will be American investor and private pilot Larry Connor. The other two passengers will serve as mission specialists: Israeli investor and former fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe, and Canadian entrepreneur Mark Pathy. The trio each paid $ 55 million for their place.

Space tourists have previously visited the ISS, but not as part of a completely private crew. And unlike most other completely private spaceflights that have taken place in recent months, this mission has a number of scientific objectives that will see its crew work with the professional astronauts on the ISS.

The Ax-1 crew

SpaceX / Axiom Space

These experiments are a significant part of what separates the passengers on this flight from typical space tourists, Connor said at a press conference on April 1. “Our feeling is that with space tourists, they will spend 10 or 15 hours training, 5 to 10 minutes in space,” he said. “In our case, depending on our role, we’ve spent anywhere from 750 to over 1,000 hours of training. In addition, among all the astronauts here, we’ll be doing about 25 different experiments, covering over 100 hours of research, over the eight days. we are on the ISS. ”

During this time, they will perform a series of health-related studies, make observations of the earth and test a prototype for plates called TESSERAE that are magnetically self-assembled into shapes, among other experiments.

According to rules established by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in July 2021, the three crew members who paid for their seats will not be officially counted as astronauts because they are not employed by the launch company. López-Alegría would probably be awarded FAA astronaut wings if he was not already a professional astronaut.

This mission is the first part of a much larger campaign for Axiom Space. The company is now working on its own space station, called Axiom Station, whose first module will be launched at the end of 2024. It is designed to help replace the ISS when it eventually retires and is debited, says Axiom Space’s CEO Michael Suffredini during the press conference.

Axiom and SpaceX launch the first non-commercial mission to the ISS

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket before launch

SpaceX

“Today, there are countries and individuals and companies that do not have access to the ISS, largely because the 15 countries that own and operate it make full use of it,” says Suffredini. He has previously said that the company plans to send commercial assignments to the ISS up to twice a year, until Axiom Station is launched.

“The whole idea of ​​these missions was to give individuals, countries and companies other opportunities to use the ISS and ultimately do more in space,” Suffredini told the news conference.

If all goes well with these missions, we can expect to see actor Tom Cruise aboard a future Axiom Space flight filming scenes for an upcoming film.

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