Axiom Space, a start-up from Houston, Texas, signed a deal with SpaceX to launch a crew of four private passengers atop a Falcon 9 rocket aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a voyage to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission, known as AX-1, will be the first fully-commercial private passenger mission in history, scheduled to launch during the second half of 2021. “This history-making flight will represent a watershed moment in the march toward universal and routine access to space,” Axiom Chief Executive Officer Michael Suffredini said in a press release earlier this year. “This will be just the first of many missions to ISS to be completely crewed and managed by Axiom Space – a first for a commercial entity. Procuring the transportation marks significant progress toward that goal, and we’re glad to be working with SpaceX in this effort.”
The private passengers will be lead by former NASA Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who has been to space four times; he will be Axiom's AX-1 Mission Commander. After SpaceX successfully launched four Crew-1 astronauts to the space station this week, Lopez-Alegria shared his excitement to soon ride aboard SpaceX spacecraft. "God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be leading the AX-1 crew on the first purely commercial orbital mission in history a little over a year from now - on this very SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. It’s gonna be a Blast!" Lopez-Alegria said.
Lopez-Alegria will be flying with three other passengers. On Tuesday, it was revealed that SpaceX will launch Israel's second astronaut to space during Axiom's AX-1 mission. Former Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe will ride Crew Dragon. The President of Israel Reuven Rivlin announced Stibbe will be launched to space after SpaceX's Crew-1 mission on Sunday. "A day of great national joy and pride. It's not every day that we announce an Israeli astronaut is going to space. Eytan Stibbe will fly with the blue and white flag his uniform, reminding us that the sky is no longer the limit!" President Rivlin wrote via Twitter. "An exciting day at Beit HaNasi. Godspeed to you, Eytan Stibbe and thanks to Ramon Foundation for supporting the initiative. Go in peace, return in peace. We're waiting for you here at home 🇮🇱 #Space," he stated. The Israeli president also shared a photograph of him with Stibbe - giving eachother an elbow bump, instead of a handshake, amid the coronavirus outbreak, pictured below.
We cannot celebrate this joyous day without remembering Ilan, Rona and Asaf Ramon ז"ל. Their absence today reverberates to the heavens, so present, so palpable.— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) November 16, 2020
"We cannot celebrate this joyous day without remembering Ilan, Rona and Asaf Ramon ז"ל. Their absence today reverberates to the heavens, so present, so palpable," President Rivlin added. Israel's first astronaut was fighter Pilot Ilan Ramon, he flew as a payload specialist aboard the United States NASA Space Shuttle Columbia mission. In which the Space Shuttle broke apart upon reentering Earth's atmosphere causing the death of the crew on February 1st, 2003.
An exciting day at Beit HaNasi.— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) November 16, 2020
Godspeed to you, #EytanStibbe and thanks to @RamonFoundation for supporting the initiative.
Go in #peace, return in peace.
We're waiting for you here at home 🇮🇱#Space pic.twitter.com/xzPTklC4Km
Lopez-Alegria and and Stibbe will be flying alongside two other passengers who have not been revealed yet. Axiom is responsible for training all the passengers. The company says the AX-1 mission aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon will be a 10-day voyage to the space station. Dragon will ferry them towards the ISS orbiting laboratory where they will stay for 8 days to experience micro-gravity and witness incredible views of Earth from orbit. Then, they will return aboard the spacecraft with a parachute-assisted splashdown in the ocean.
Axiom has not released any details on how much it will pay SpaceX to fly its four-person crew to the orbiting laboratory next year. However, Dragon has a price-tag of approximately $55 million per seat, and NASA said last year it opened a path for commercial trips to the Space Station, stating it would charge $35,000 per person, per day for private stays.
A multinational crew composed of three private astronauts and @CommanderMLA have now officially signed with Axiom.— Axiom Space (@Axiom_Space) November 11, 2020
In other words: the first private crew to go to orbit in human history – the crew of Ax-1 – has been assembled.
Mission launches NET late 2021. More details soon. pic.twitter.com/9gslvlTD55