Axiom Space is a privately funded space infrastructure developer headquartered in Houston, Texas, that aims to build and operate the world's first commercial space station by the year 2024. The company also provides spaceflight management services for customers who would like to travel to space. Axiom is ready to conduct the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS) that will be launched by SpaceX next week. NASA is enabling up to two short-duration private astronaut missions per year to the ISS to support the growth of the commercial space industry.
Former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría will be commander of the AX-1 mission which will launch paying passengers: Larry Connor of the United States, Eytan Stibbe of Israel, and Mark Pathy of Canada (Read their biographies below). They are scheduled to launch to the Space Station on Wednesday, April 6, aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft. A Falcon 9 rocket will lift off at 12:05 p.m. ET from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will mark SpaceX's sixth crewed spaceflight launched from American soil. The Axiom AX-1 crew will visit the orbiting laboratory for 8 days where they will enjoy stunning views of Earth from orbit. [NASA will broadcast a series of press conference leading to the launch; schedule and video link is at the end of this story.] 04/03/2022 UPDATE: Axiom Mission 1 is now targeting launch no earlier than Friday, April 8 at 11:17 am. EDT.
"The Ax-1 mission crew members are the first in a new class of pioneers stepping forth to lay the groundwork for Axiom Station and the full realization of low Earth orbit's possibilities," Axiom states. "The Ax-1 crew will conduct extensive research and STEM outreach. Their efforts align with how each philanthropist carries out his work at home, in service to all on Earth and to all who follow them beyond it."
"[...] Five days away from what is a truly historic mission to the International Space Station." Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space, said during the press conference, "This really does represent the first step, where a bunch of individuals who want to do something meaningful in low Earth orbit that aren't members of a government are able to take this opportunity," he said.
AX-1 COMMANDER MICHAEL LÓPEZ-ALEGRÍA
Michael López-Alegría was born in Madrid, Spain and immigrated to the United States with his family. He is a former NASA astronaut and now works as Chief Astronaut for Axiom Space. He has flown on four Space Shuttle missions (STS-73, STS-92, STS- 113) and served as Commander of ISS during the Expedition 14 mission. His fourth trip to space was aboard Russia's SoyuzTMA-9. He holds NASA records for the most spacewalks, he has performed 10 extravehicular activities totaling 67 hours 40 minutes. In 2021, he was inducted to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
López-Alegría's son, Nicolás López-Alegría, is currently working on a documentary movie about their life journey and the Ax-1 mission, according to an Axiom press release. "This is opening a new era in human spaceflight," Michael López-Alegría said during a news conference on April 1st. "We are taking the first step in a next generation platform initiative that's going to bring working, living and research in space to a much broader and more international audience."
"It's been a real privilege to work and train alongside these three remarkable gentlemen," said López-Alegría. "We have spent countless hours in simulations, in technical training and hands-on training and they have brought unbelievable commitment, discipline and an eagerness to learn to the endeavor. I can say with zero hesitation that we are ready to fly," he said.
AX-1 PILOT LARRY CONNOR
Larry Connor is from Dayton, Ohio, United States. He is a married father of three, an entrepreneur, non-profit activist investor and will serve as pilot during the Ax-1 mission. "Connor will become the first private Dragon pilot to reach the ISS and the first human to reach the deepest ocean depths and outer space within one year," the company shared.
Connor is the founder and managing partner of The Connor Group, a real estate investment firm. His non-profit organizations include: The Connor Group Kids & Community Partners and The Greater Dayton that assists students to help pull them out of generational poverty.
AX-1 MISSION SPECIALIST MARK PATHY
Mark Pathy is an entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist, and married with three children. Pathy will serve as Mission Specialist during the Axiom AX-1 mission. He will make history as Canada’s 2nd private astronaut and the 12th Canadian to ever travel to space. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Montreal-based MAVRIK investment and financing company. Pathy is a member of the boards and Executive Committees of the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation, Dans La Rue and the Pathy Family Foundation.
AX-1 MISSION SPECIALIST EYTAN STIBBE
Eytan Stibbe served as an Israeli Air Force pilot for more than four decades. He is an impact investor, philanthropist and married with three children plus four grandchildren. He is going to space aboard Axiom's AX-1 mission in collaboration with the Ramon Foundation, the Israel Space Agency, the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Education. Stibbe will make history as the 2nd Israeli to ever visit outer space. Stibbe founded the Vital Capital investment fund, which helps underserved populations in developing countries have access to housing, vital utilities, and education.
NASA TV SCHEDULE
Tuesday, April 5
No earlier than 3 p.m. – Prelaunch News Conference
Wednesday, April 6
10:45 a.m. – NASA Axiom AX-1 mission launch coverage begins.
Friday, April 8
"NASA’s mission responsibility is for integrated operations, which begin during the spacecraft’s approach to the International Space Station, continue during the crew’s eight days aboard the orbiting laboratory conducting science, education, and commercial activities, and conclude once Dragon exits the area of the space station," the agency said.
1 a.m. – NASA docking coverage begins
2:45 a.m. (approximately) – docking
5 a.m. (approximately) – hatch opening and crew welcome ceremony.
WATCH IT LIVE!
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
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.