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Axiom Space Inc. is a Houston, Texas start-up, founded by Michael Suffredini who served as NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) Program Manager from 2005 to 2015. Axiom plans to build a space station in low Earth orbit to continue operations once NASA retires the ISS program and moves beyond the orbiting laboratory to focus operations on exploring the lunar surface. Axiom also offers space tours for civilians.
On October 13th, during a conference at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Suffredini shared that Axiom will soon finalize contracts for its first private space tourist flight aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft. --"We have all of our customers identified and we’re about to finish their contracting," he said. "We’re cautiously optimistic that by the end of October we will have everything in place to move forward for a launch in the fourth quarter of 2021," he added.
SpaceX launched its first crewed mission to ISS in May this year. The company demonstrated its spacecraft is safe and reliable to carry humans to space and back. Axiom's space tourist mission with SpaceX is scheduled to be a 10-day journey that will launch civilians aboard Crew Dragon to the space station atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The space tourists will stay at ISS for 8 days, where they will experience microgravity and amazing views of our planet.
SpaceX's first private civilian flight will carry three Axiom customers who will fly alongside former NASA Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, he will be commander during the mission. Earlier this year, NASA and SpaceX announced Hollywood actor Tom Cruise will film a movie at the space station and fly aboard Crew Dragon. Then, reports surfaced about Cruise and his film production agency working with Axiom. Axiom is responsible for providing 'training, mission planning, hardware development, life support, medical support, crew provisions, hardware and safety certifications, on-orbit operations and overall mission management.' However, Axiom has not officially disclosed who their private passengers will be on their first mission in collaboration with SpaceX.
Astronaut Lopez-Alegria was asked by a IAC panelist if next year's first civilian flight will be alongside the actor, to which he responded, --"... Can’t confirm or deny what’s happening in that regard. The 't’s' have yet to be crossed and the 'i’s' have yet to be dotted on all of the contracts, and until such time, we’re not ready to discuss who the other crew members will be," he stated.