The launch of the Axiom 1 mission has been a success. Why the first private trip to the ISS is important and what we can expect now

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“What a historic launch!” the cry of joy It is from Bill Nelson, administrator of NASA, and, indeed, what has been ripped from him is a milestone, a pioneering event that was recorded just a few hours ago in the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. At 11:17 a.m. EDT, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off from its launch pad, hosting the first private mission to Earth. International Space Station (ISS). In its almost quarter century of history, it is the first time that the platform will receive the members of a fully commercial flight.

As Nelson presumed, the operation has been a success and this morning the company that organized the mission, Axiom Space, posted on Twitter a photo in which the crew members were seen and announced, ironically, that, after completing the “check-in”, they were already preparing for the ISS.

Why is the mission historic? And what can we expect now?

The first 100% private mission to the ISS. On board the spacecraft propelled by the Falcon 9 rocket, a Dragon Endeavor also from SpaceX, four people travel: Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe. The first is the mission commander and vice president of the company that organized it, Axiom Space. The remaining three, businessmen who have paid exorbitant sums to be part of the operation and visit the ISS. As required The countryeach one has paid around 50 million euros for an adventure that will last 10 days.

If your operation is historical it is because, as recognized by NASA itself, is “the first private astronaut mission to the ISS”. Today it is expected that the Endeavor will dock with the station and open the hatch that gives access to the four crew members of the mission named Axiom1 (Ax-1) inside the ISS, an infrastructure in which NASA, ESA and and their counterparts from Japan, Canada and Russia. Connor, Pathy and Stibbe will not be the first “civilians” on the ISS — in 2021, for example, a Russian director and actress were there — but their flight marks history for its commercial nature.

mission details. The Axiom 1 Mission It will take a total of ten days.. During most of that time – eight days – its four members will be on board the ISS focused on demonstrations and experiments. Once finished, they will return to Earth and entertain at one of the seven landing points planned on the coast of Florida, in the USA. The trip that took off yesterday from Launch Complex 39A, located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, was made with a Falcon 9 rocket and a Dragon Endeavor ship, both from Elon Musk’s company.

The company behind the mission is Axiom Space, who boasts of having captained “the world’s first totally private astronaut mission to the ISS.” The company is based in Texas, USA, and is dedicated to organizing space missions for “private astronauts” such as Axiom 1. Its work, however, is not limited to orchestrating operations. Axiom Space plans go through there being a commercial module that can be add to the ISS Harmony node in 2024.

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Don’t call them space tourists. Unlike other key companies in the private spaceflight industry, an emerging, rising industry that promises to move large sums, such as Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic or SpaceX itself, Axiom Space seems focused on the potential of commercial missions . On the ISS and, in the future, on a private station. For now, the company seems to want to keep its distance from the concept of “space tourism.”

López-Alegría himself rejects that term and affects the preparation and even the work that the Axiom-1 crew will carry out on the ISS. His space missions for what he calls “private astronauts” require 17 weeks of training and itineraries personalized. Inside the station, the members of the mission will carry out, the company assures, more than 25 experiments. Beyond the denominations, the truth is that Axiom Space seeks to capture the interest of academic groups: “It opens up more opportunities for scientists and researchers around the world.”

Space

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft with the Ax-1 mission.

A delicate moment for the season. The crew of Axiom-1 star in a pioneering mission; but the truth is that his visit to the ISS also takes place at an equally historic moment. The space infrastructure has not remained immune to the war in Ukraine and just a week ago the head of the Russian agency, Roscosmos, showed his intention to suspend cooperation on the ISS for the treatment of companies from his country. “The restoration of normal relations is only possible with the unconditional removal of illegal sanctions,” he stressed.

On board the ISS, López-Alegría, Connor, Pathy and Stibbe will meet three astronauts from NASA, one from the European Space Agency and three from the Russian body. In an interview with The countryLópez-Alegría himself recognized in March that “it will be very uncomfortable to see the smoke in Ukraine.”

what is to come. Axiom-1 may be the first fully commercial mission to the ISS, but the Texas company isn’t saying it’s the only one. end of 2021 NASA and Axiom announced that between the fall of 2022 and the spring of 2023, a second private operation will be launched to the ISS, the Ax-2, which will last a maximum of 14 days. The company also plans to add a habitable commercial node to the ISS in 2024 and even proposes that in 2030 there will be a private stationready to take over from the current one, which dates back to the end of the 90s and has been promoted by agencies.

“We have the first module in 2024. Six months later, a second module. And another six months later, a third. Then we will pause waiting for NASA and the other ISS partners to decide to sink it. the fourth module, which is the one that provides most of the electricity,” explained the director of the company a The country in March.

Images | Axiom Space Y POT

“What a historic launch!” the cry of joy It is from Bill Nelson, administrator of NASA, and, indeed, what has…

“What a historic launch!” the cry of joy It is from Bill Nelson, administrator of NASA, and, indeed, what has…

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