The first private manned flight could be the future of space missions

The first private manned flight could be the future of space missions

Axiom's Ax-1, the first privately manned mission in the orbiting laboratory, is scheduled for launch on March 30 and will last 10 days. Ax-1's four spaceflyers, three paying customers and Axiom's Michael López-Alegría, who commands the mission, will fly inside a SpaceX Dragon capsule, which will take off atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

"There have been individuals who have flown on government flights, but never a completely private flight [to the ISS] ... So we are very excited that this is the first of these," said Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom, during a live streaming press conference on Monday, Feb. 28.

Axiom ultimately aims to operate its own commercial space station, and the Houston-based company plans to launch a private module on the ISS in about two years to begin work on this goal, Suffredini said.

He also stated that Ax-1 will be the first of "probably hundreds of missions" during the construction of the Axiom space station and other low Earth orbit service missions. This first crew, he added, has an ambitious research program in mind. Ax-1 crew members are preparing for such work as they train, explained López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut, during the same briefing.

if (jQuery ("# ​​crm_srl -th_scienze_d_mh2_1 "). is (": visible ")) {console.log (" Edinet ADV adding zone: tag crm_srl-th_scienze_d_mh2_1 slot id: th_scienze_d_mh2 "); } For now, spaceflyers are focused on refresher training and "data collection for pre-flight, and post-flight experiments," he said. This is especially important for medical experiments that focus on how bodies in space flight change due to the rigors of space flight.

López-Alegría added that Ax-1 training was essentially similar to what he experienced while preparing for NASA missions. López-Alegría noted that his crew is trying to be "standard bearers" of how private astronauts should behave on the ISS.

López-Alegría said his relationships with space tourists in the past, when he was a NASA astronaut, were positive. But he also recognized the difficulties that might exist in this regard. “We are super sensitive to this aspect, and we think it is a great example for future crews. All the crew members are ... very dedicated, very committed, very professional, and we are really taking this very, very seriously. It's not tourism ”he explained.

if (jQuery (" # crm_srl-th_scienze_d_mh3_1 "). Is (": visible ")) {console.log (" Edinet ADV adding zone: tag crm_srl-th_scienze_d_mh3_1 slot id: th_scienze_d_mh3 "); } The crew's time will largely be spent on a "collection" of life science and technology demonstrations, said Christian Maender, director of space research and manufacturing at Axiom, at the press conference. More announcements will be available in the coming weeks, he added.

Medical investigations will include work with stem cells and heart health, and one of the key technology demonstrations will be the assembly of spacecraft in space, which proponents hope will reduce the costs required to operate the equipment in orbit.

Looking ahead to the Axiom space station, Suffredini said the planned launch date for the first module will be in September 2024. The company is expected to conclude critical design reviews for the first two modules this summer , added.

if (jQuery ("# ​​crm_srl-th_scienze_d_mh4_1"). is (": visible")) {console.log ("Edinet ADV adding zone: tag crm_srl-th_scienze_d_mh4_1 slot id: th_scienze_d_mh4" ); } Among the modules that Axiom plans to launch is a research facility, which will help that will serve as scientific support in orbit when the “ISS is ready to retire… about a year before that happens,” Suffredini explained.

Suffredini, who was in charge of NASA's International Space Station program from 2005 to 2015, said it is possible that Axiom's modules could support a mission as early as 2028 if needed.

Axiom will initially launch its modules on the ISS. The private facility will eventually detach from the ISS and become an independent space station. NASA wants to extend the ISS agreement to 2030, but this is pending agreements by the various partners that make up the multinational pact, to extend the life of the ISS beyond the current date of 2024.

Il largest partner, Russia, is now facing severe international sanctions in space (among many other sectors) due to a military invasion of Ukraine last week. During a recent call, Kathy Lueders, NASA's Associate Administrator of Space Operations, stressed that NASA and Russia continue to work together as usual on the ISS and are committed to continuing that relationship.

“We as team we are operating just as we were operating three weeks ago, ”he said. “The teams, the controllers are still talking together. We are still training together. We are still working together ”.

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