NASA and its international partners have given their approval for Axiom Space's third private astronaut mission, known as Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3), to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission is set to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with a targeted launch date no earlier than January 2024. SpaceX will play a crucial role in this mission, launching the Ax-3 crew atop a Falcon 9 rocket aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft, as announced on September 12.
These private astronaut missions are part of NASA's strategy to foster the growth of a commercial low Earth orbit ecosystem and marketplace. This approach aims to open up opportunities for more nations and individuals to participate in space activities.
Angela Hart, manager of NASA's Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program, expressed her pride in these efforts. “I am proud to see NASA and industry’s continued dedication toward enabling private astronaut missions,” said Hart. “These commercial efforts continue to expand opportunity and access to microgravity research and discovery. Each of these missions is a next step in building our shared future in low Earth orbit.”
During the Ax-3 crew stay at the orbiting laboratory, which is planned for up to 14 days, the private astronauts will engage in a mission involving scientific research, outreach activities, and commercial endeavors. Notably, this mission will feature the first Turkish astronaut in space and marks the first commercial mission for an astronaut sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA).
In a groundbreaking collaboration, three countries—Italy, Türkiye, and Sweden through the ESA—have united for Ax-3, showcasing international cooperation in the realm of commercial space travel. Axiom Space's Chief Astronaut and Commander Michael López-Alegría will serve as commander during this historic mission, representing both the United States and Spain as a dual-citizen. The Ax-3 pilot is Italian Air Force Col. Walter Villadei, and the two mission specialists are Alper Gezeravcı of Türkiye and ESA project astronaut Marcus Wandt of Sweden. All three have extensive flight crew experience and have served in their respective nation's Air Forces.
“It is an honor to command another private astronaut mission with Axiom Space and lead a dynamic crew of professional operators representing several nations across one region of the world,” said López-Alegría. “This crew is shifting the paradigm of how governments and space agencies access and reap the benefits of microgravity. The Ax-3 mission will be transformational as it fosters partnerships outside the construct of the ISS and positions European nations as pioneers of the emerging commercial space industry. I look forward to working with this team and with all those who will support our mission on the ground, on orbit, and around the world.”
Furthermore, NASA and Axiom Space have already signed an order for a fourth private astronaut mission, scheduled for launch no earlier than August 2024. The success of these private missions, including Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) and Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), demonstrates the growing importance of commercial ventures in space exploration.
In conclusion, Axiom Mission 3 marks a significant milestone in the journey toward commercial space travel, international cooperation in space missions, and the development of a thriving low Earth orbit ecosystem. It's a testament to the evolving landscape of space exploration and the increasing involvement of private entities in this exciting frontier.
》 Author's note: My work is possible Thanks to everyone who reads Tesmanian.com. Write your thoughts in the comment section below. If you have any story suggestions or feedback, feel free to Direct Message me on X.com (social media): Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo @JaneidyEve Read my most recent stories here: Recent News Stories 《
Featured Images Source: Axiom & SpaceX
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.