NASA and Axiom Space signed on Monday (10) an agreement to carry out the first private mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The flight is scheduled to take off by January 2022, departing from the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida (United States), taking four astronauts.
Named “Axiom Mission 1” (Ax-1), the expedition is expected to last eight days, during which time the crew will stay in the orbital laboratory, working together with the astronauts who are there at the time. The Texas-based company will pay for supplies, cargo delivery, storage and other resources used on the trip.
NASA, which closed the deal through its Commercial Crew Program, will pay the partner for the service of bringing scientific samples of experiments carried out on the ISS to Earth. They must be kept cool during transport back to the planet.
According to the American space agency, the ISS’s commercial opening will help to develop a robust and competitive economy in low Earth orbit. “We are excited to see more people gain access to space flight through this first private astronaut mission to the Space Station,” commented NASA operations administrator Kathy Lueders.
The crew of NASA and Axiom’s first private mission to the Space Station has already been defined. These are astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Mark Pathy, Larry Connor and Eytan Stibbe. López-Alegría was chosen as the commander of the AX-1.
The team will have the names submitted for analysis by the agency and its international partners, as it happens by default, in addition to undergoing medical tests. If approved in the review and qualification phases, the crew members will start training to learn about the systems, procedures and emergency actions.
Hired by Axiom as a launch supplier, SpaceX will provide the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the transportation of astronauts.