Axiom Space, an aerospace company from Houston, Texas, signed a deal with SpaceX to launch a crew of four space tourists atop a Falcon 9 rocket aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft to embark on a voyage to the International Space Station (ISS). The space tour mission, known as AX-1, will be the first entirely-private orbital space tour in history, scheduled to launch early 2022. On Tuesday, Axiom Space announced the passengers that will launch aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon during the AX-1 mission, “former NASA astronaut and Axiom vice president Michael López-Alegría as commander; American entrepreneur and non-profit activist investor Larry Connor as pilot; Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy; and impact investor and philanthropist Eytan Stibbe of Israel,” Axiom wrote in the press release.
Astronaut López-Alegría “flew to space four times over a 20-year, record-setting career at NASA and last visited the ISS in 2007, will become the first person to ever command both a civil and a commercial human spaceflight mission. Connor will be the first private mission pilot in the annals of spaceflight,” the company stated. Stibbe will become Israel’s second person in space, Pathy will be the 11th Canadian to see Earth from ISS orbit, Connor will be the second oldest person to visit space at 71 years old. “This collection of pioneers – the first space crew of its kind – represents a defining moment in humanity’s eternal pursuit of exploration and progress,” López-Alegría said. “I know from firsthand experience that what humans encounter in space is profound and propels them to make more meaningful contributions on returning to Earth. And as much as any astronaut who has come before them, the members of this crew have accomplished the sorts of things in life that equip them to accept that responsibility, act on that revelation, and make a truly global impact. I look forward to leading this crew and to their next meaningful and productive contributions to the human story, both on orbit and back home,” he said in an Axiom statement.
SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft
The AX-1 mission will not only be a space tour, Axiom also shared this week the crew will work during their eight-day-stay at the Space Station, they will ‘participate in research and philanthropic projects’ while in orbit. “We sought to put together a crew for this historic mission that had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the people on Earth, and I’m glad to say we’ve done that with this group,” Axiom Space President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Suffredini said in a press release. “This is just the first of several Axiom Space crews whose private missions to the International Space Station will truly inaugurate an expansive future for humans in space – and make a meaningful difference in the world when they return home.”
AX-1 passenger Stibbe is an Israeli Air Force Pilot, tasked with conducting scientific experiments in microgravity for the Israel Space Agency at the Ministry of Science & Technology and the Ramon foundation, with the purpose to inspire and educate Israeli children and teachers. Pathy is a philanthropist, he will perform scientific research regarding health in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, Mayo Clinic, and Cleveland Clinic. “Connor, who has founded and led organizations in the real estate, fintech, and non-profit sectors, will collaborate with on research projects. He also intends to provide instructional lessons to students at Dayton Early College Academy in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio,” Axiom shared.
Axiom also recently announced that former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will serve as AX-1’s backup commander, if for any reason López-Alegría cannot serve as commander for SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft during the first private space tour. "Not the first time I have backed up López-Alegría! The next best thing to flying in space is training for it! Looking forward to the commercial evolution Axiom Space," Whitson said via Twitter.
Not the first time I have backed up @CommanderMLA ! The next best thing to flying in space is training for it! Looking forward to the commercial evolution @Axiom_Space . https://t.co/RlwCU62dSs pic.twitter.com/OVwkO13e1b— Peggy Whitson (@AstroPeggy) January 26, 2021
Featured Image Source: Axiom
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.