NASA announced a new date for first private astronaut Axiom mission to the International Space Station (ISS) that will be launched by SpaceX. The Axiom AX-1 mission will launch former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, who will serve as Ax-1 mission commander; entrepreneur Larry Connor, investor/philanthropist Mark Pathy; and former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe. The agency initially planned to launch the crew to ISS in February, this week the agency announced AX-1 scheduled to lift off on Wednesday, March 30, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Left to right: Axiom Space Ax-1 Pilot Larry Connor, Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, Mission Specialist Mark Pathy, Mission Specialist Eytan Stibbe./Source: Axiom
According to a recent NASA press release, the AX-1 crew will ride on a previously-flown SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket aboard Crew Dragon Endeavour, which is the same spacecraft that launched SpaceX’s first crewed launch (Demo-2) to the ISS in 2020, as well as SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission in 2021. AX-1 will be Endeavour’s third spaceflight. It has spent a total of 263 days in orbit and is the U.S. crewed space capsule with most time spent in orbit to date.
Besides enjoying amazing views of Earth from orbit, the AX-1 crewmembers plan to conduct science research at the ISS lab. “After 10 days in orbit, the Ax-1 crew will splash down off the coast of Florida,” the agency shared. “This represents another significant milestone in our efforts to create a low-Earth orbit economy,” said NASA Director of Commercial Spaceflight Phil McAlister. “I wish these Axiom crew members safe travels, and I hope they find their time in space productive and enjoyable.”
Since August 2021, the AX-1 crew has been training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to learn all about the ISS systems and emergency procedures. They are also training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to familiarize themselves with the Crew Dragon spacecraft. In May 2021, the crew trained in simulated zero gravity and centrifuge, then in June they started spacecraft training. They started to received ISS training in August through December 2021, as well as practiced emergency procedures with a Space Station replica. The crew is likely still going through all they learned the past months to be ready before launching in March. “I believe space is the last great frontier. I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of this historic mission,” said Larry Connor.
Making history! Axiom’s new Mission Control Center (MCC-A) conducted its first on-orbit operation on the @Space_Station. MCC-A is now validated as a payload operations site with @NASA – a significant milestone to ensure mission success for #Ax1 and all future Axiom on-orbit ops. pic.twitter.com/OuNOBj3r0p— Axiom Space (@Axiom_Space) January 28, 2022
“Humanity has only scratched the surface of low-Earth orbit’s potential for breakthrough innovation and Axiom was founded to push that envelope – first with private astronaut missions to ISS, followed by the launch and operation of the world’s first commercial space station, and eventually the creation of a rotating city in space and scaled human presence in orbit,” said Michael Suffredini, President and CEO of Axiom Space. “We applaud the Ax-1 crew’s commitment to advancing scientific inquiry and kicking off this civilizational leap. We’re confident this mission will become not just a monumental moment in space travel, but the true beginning of making space’s potential for meaningful discovery available to private citizens and organizations for the first time.”
Featured Image Source: NASA