Axiom Space, the International Space Station’s first private mission to launch on Friday – Greeley Tribune

Brevard County, Fla. (CNN | CW44 News at 10) – In a historic first, a group of four civilians Commercial spaceflight company Axiom Space is set to launch to the International Space Station this week as part of its inaugural mission.

They will fly aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and dock to the station via a SpaceX Dragon capsule, but don’t confuse Axiom with Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company. It serves a different purpose entirely. Axiom is less focused on building rockets than re-thinking the future of space stations.

Read more: Madeira Beach gets first beach mat for people with mobility difficulties

Four crew members — three paid passengers and one former NASA astronaut to serve as commander — participated in the mission, dubbed the X-1, as part of a 10-day visit to SpaceX vehicles. Will taxi to ISS via Viatra. Axiom has arranged with NASA for them to spend eight days in the orbiting laboratory managed by a team of international government-backed agencies. While aboard the ISS, civilians are slated to assist in more than two dozen scientific experiments as well as help pave the way for the development of Axiom’s plans for building the first commercial space station.

Axiom, SpaceX and NASA announced Sunday evening that they are now targeting a Friday launch at 11:17 a.m. ET, set to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If the launch goes as planned on Friday, the docking of the SpaceX Dragon capsule to the station is scheduled for Saturday morning. Those interested in watching the launch can tune in through live coverage of the event from NASA and Axiom Space on Friday morning.

The commander of the first-ever private astronaut mission to the ISS is Axiom’s Michael López-Alegria, a veteran Spanish-American NASA astronaut who has four previous space flights under his belt, and now has business development plans for Axiom. Has the professional title of Vice President. , He’ll be joined by three fee-paying crewmembers — Larry Connor of the United States, Eyton Stibbe of Israel and Mark Pethe of Canada — who paid Axiom an estimated $55 million to travel in orbit. (Axiom did not publicly disclose specific financial details of the trip.)

Here’s what you should know about the upcoming Axiom spaceflight, which A handful of private companies are trying to commercialize space beyond the surface of our planet.

Axiom Space, the Houston-based company overseeing the entire mission, doesn’t build launch vehicles or rockets like some other players in the emerging private spaceflight industry like Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic.

The company arranges so-called “private astronaut” missions to the ISS, which include seventeen weeks of training and custom itineraries based on the individual goals of those wealthy enough to travel. Ax-1 is the company’s first of these planned trips to the ISS, and late last year NASA and Axiom announced that Ax-2 is targeting a launch between fall 2022 and spring 2023. In addition to its human spaceflight services, Axiom also offers its website opportunities for companies and individuals who wish to use the space for research purposes.

NASA uses the term “private astronaut mission” to refer to a “privately funded mission”, a commercial launch vehicle intended to enable tourism, outreach, commercial research, and approved commercial and marketing activities on the space station. But there are purely commercial space flights. However, with the title “astronaut” referring to ultra-wealthy thrill-seekers, its definition has sparked heated debate online in recent years.

In January 2020, NASA selected Axiom to provide at least one habitable commercial module to be added to the ISS’s Harmony node in 2024. Axiom said it plans to have its module ready to detach from the station by the end of 2028, and operate as intended. The first building block of a private commercial space station.

Axiom’s lofty plans to build the first private space station and pioneer the commercialization of low-Earth orbit see it as setting it apart from others in the budding private space industry. The company even describes the Ax-1 mission as “an important step towards Axiom’s goal of building a private space station in low-Earth orbit that will serve as a global educational and commercial hub.” I can work.”

Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini, a 30-year veteran of NASA who served as ISS program manager from 2005 to 2015, referred to X-1 as a “forerunner mission” for the company’s plans during a pre-launch news conference last week. described. and is launching its fully commercial space station into orbit.

Read more: Two family members killed by lightning in Tampa

While Axiom is partnering with SpaceX to launch its personal astronauts, “SpaceX is just a taxi,” John Logsdon, professor emeritus at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, said of Musk’s company in this Axiom mission. told CNN Business about the role.

Logsdon, who was the founder and longtime director of GW’s Space Policy Institute, said that he considers Axiom’s inaugural private astronaut mission “the first step in a process that would result in one or more private space stations in low Earth”. Can do many types of work.

“We’ve had the International Space Station in orbit with people since the year 2000,” Logsdon said. “NASA Says It Will Orbit It” Turn low-Earth orbit access to the private sector in 2030 or so.”

According to Logsdon, Axiom Space is “the first of private sector undertakings preparing for that transition.” He added that construction of the first Axiom space station module is already underway overseas, and will be shipped to Houston for final assembly next year before their tentative launch in 2024.

“Like all entrepreneurial investments, there is a high risk of failure, but there is a possibility, a very real possibility, of success — success in terms of the economic payoff from doing things in space,” Logsdon said. In February 2021, Axiom said it raised some $130 million from investors, adding that “the new financing will accelerate the development of Axiom’s workforce and the construction of its privately developed space station.”

While private astronauts are trying to venture beyond Earth’s surface, there could potentially be direct launch deals with SpaceX – as billionaire Jared Isaacman did last year for his self-funded Inspire 4 mission – Logsdon says Axiom’s mission objective is “fundamentally different from Inspire 4.”

Logsdon said these trips are the first step toward Axiom’s primary goal of building a commercial space station to replace the ISS. The Inspiration 4 mission was “basically a tourist ride,” he said.

Although the opportunity to visit a commercial space station is likely to be years before it becomes available to more than just the wealthy, Logsdon notes that a private space station could provide benefits for the wealthy beyond vacations – especially if The ISS is retired as employed and scientists, engineers and other researchers explore alternatives.

The privatization of manned spaceflight is becoming an increasingly crowded field amid the rise of a handful of space tourism ventures. However, Axiom CEO Suffredini said during last Friday’s news conference that he thinks the company’s plans to build the first commercial space station — and launch the first commercial module to be added to the ISS in 2024 — give the company a novel Provides “Business Plan”.

“We think this puts us in a good place relative to the competition, but we are glad that there are others who are going to help us grow LEO. [low-earth orbit] Economy on the way,” Sufredini said.

Logsdon said he has been watching human spaceflight launches for decades and was at Kennedy Space Center for the Apollo 11 launch, which put the first humans on the Moon back in 1969. While the private sector’s entry into spaceflight has stymied some early intrigue, he said he still plans on tuning in for launch.

More news: Free Admission in Observance of Yom Hashoah at Florida Holocaust Museum on April 28

The-CNN-Wire™ and © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., WarnerMedia Co. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment