NASA has approved the four crew members of Axiom Mission 1, the mission that is scheduled to travel to the International Space Station at the end of March. The Spanish-American astronaut Miguel López Alegría will be in charge.
SYNC 3/2/2022 14:30 CEST
NASA has given final approval for the launch of the first private astronaut mission, Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), which is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday 30 March from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral (USA), according to a statement from the US space agency.
The Axiom Space mission will fly to low-Earth orbit in tandem of the Crew Dragon capsule and a Falcon 9 rocket, both of which are owned by SpaceX.
The mission commander will be former NASA astronaut Miguel López Alegría, of Spanish origin, who, together with American businessman Larry Connor, Canadian philanthropist Mark Pathy, and former Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe will spend eight days aboard the orbital laboratory carrying out scientific, educational and commercial activities.
The Ax-1 mission commander will be former NASA astronaut Miguel López Alegría, born in Madrid and trained in the USA.
“This mission is another milestone in our effort to create an economy in low Earth orbit,” celebrates Phil McAlister, director of NASA’s commercial missions department. According to the agency, the proposed mission activities are still under review and will be approved prior to flight.
Axiom has proposed a series of microgravity activities that the Ax-1 crew intends to conduct during their mission, in collaboration with various organisations on Earth. This research will be sponsored by the US National Laboratory on the Space Station.
The goal of the Ax-1 crew is to set a standard for all future private astronaut missions in terms of preparedness and professionalism.
“As commander, I am proud of the work the crew members have done to perform useful activities on the International Space Station and am pleased to see that they meet the standards required of all astronauts flying to the station since Expedition 1,” adds the Madrid-born American astronaut.
The Ax-1 crew has been training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and other NASA facilities since August 2021 to learn the station’s systems, science facilities and emergency procedures.
Crewmembers have also been training with other partners involved in the space lab such as the European Space Agency (ESA), and launch contractor SpaceX.
NASA and Axiom mission operations teams began joint simulations in December to familiarise themselves with the dynamic phases of the private astronauts’ flight to and from the space station. The joint simulations will continue until launch.
Opening space to private investment
NASA continues to make rapid progress in its efforts to build business opportunities in low-Earth orbit. It recently announced a second mission with Axiom Space, as well as a new selection of companies to develop space station designs and other commercial destinations in low Earth orbit.
Prior to these awards, the US space agency selected this company in January 2020 to design and develop commercial modules to be attached to the station.
One of NASA’s goals is to foster commercial opportunities in Earth orbit.
Axiom recently completed the preliminary design review of two modules, as well as the critical design of their primary structure, in collaboration with NASA. The flight hardware for the first Axiom module is currently in the manufacturing process.
According to NASA itself, one of its goals is to foster commercial opportunities in Earth orbit. This strategy would allow the agency to focus on its Artemis missions to the Moon while continuing to use low-Earth orbit as a training and testing ground for those deep space missions.
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