Space tourists have booked their next special mission to the International Space Station

In April of this year, the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station was successfully completed when Axiom Space sent four non-NASA astronauts into space during the 17-day Axium-1 (Ax-1) mission. Building on the success of the endeavor, NASA and Axiom Space have signed an agreement for the second mission of this type to the International Space Station, which will take place in the second quarter of 2023.

“With each new step forward, we work with commercial space companies and grow the economy in low Earth orbit,” said Phil McAllister, director of commercial space at NASA Headquarters. “In addition to expanding access to orbit for more people, we also hope that astronauts’ special missions will help the industry learn and develop the skills needed to perform such missions, and NASA benefits from gaining additional capacity, particularly with additional recharges from a space station.” “

Axiom Space’s ultimate plan is to build its own space station, which will be the world’s first commercial space station.

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Axiom Mission 2 (X-2) will be launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once docked with the International Space Station, the private astronauts are scheduled to spend 10 days conducting activities in orbit, such as science experiments and educational outreach. For the second mission, Axiom mission planners will coordinate in-orbit activities for special astronauts in coordination with space station crew members and flight controllers on the ground, NASA said.

The Ax-1 sent former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez Alegria and propelled passengers Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eitan Stipe into space. This was the first mission to push customers to take advantage of NASA’s plan to open the International Space Station to commercial astronaut crews. It was the first entirely private mission in the space station’s 21-year history.

Ax-1 crew. Credit: Axiom Space

The crew of the Ax-1 said that they do not consider themselves to be mere tourists, as they have a complete agenda for their mission. There have been 26 science trials and technology demonstrations conducted for organizations including Mayo Clinic, Montreal Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic and the Ramon Foundation.

said Derek Hassmann, Axiom Mission Leader at Axiom Integration and Operations. Axiom continues to fund private astronaut flights to the International Space Station to build our expertise and attract new customers in preparation for the launch of our space station, Axiom. Our new crew on the Ax-2, along with the full mission statement of scientific, outreach and commercial activities, will continue to increase the use of the National Laboratory of the International Space Station and demonstrate to the world the benefits of commercial space missions to all of humanity.”

The crew for the Ax-2 mission has so far been selected, but Axiom Space said it will submit four proposed crew members and four reserve crews to the International Space Station’s Multilateral Crew Operations Committee for review. NASA said it requires all private astronaut mission providers to select a former NASA astronaut as the spacecraft commander.

Axiom Space astronaut Mark Bathy conducted a two-way Holoport session from the International Space Station, communicating with Canadian astronauts Dave Williams and Joshua Kotrick at NASA’s Mission Control Center. (Axiom Space Photo)

Like the Ax-1 crew, members of the Ax-2 crew will train for their flight with NASA, international partners and SpaceX. Axiom will provide services to NASA, such as bringing in crew supplies, delivering cargo into space, and returning science experiments. The crew must also bring their own supplies such as food, clothing, and other daily needs. The agreement allows for one week of contingency aboard the space station if weather or other conditions delay the crew’s departure and landing.

The Ax-1’s flight was originally supposed to last 10 days, but concerns about weather in the starting area delayed departure. Axiom and NASA had the same agreement, and Axiom customers did not have to pay extra for the extension.

Specifically, the agreement stipulates that the crew of the Ax-2 must return scientific samples that must be kept cool during transport to Earth, a nitrogen/oxygen recharge system (NORS) tank, allow for the return of two last-minute shipments in baggage transfers, and up to To 10 hours of special astronaut mission commander time during a docking mission to complete NASA science or perform missions for NASA.

I want to go? Axiom Space has more information on their website.

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