Axiom sends first fully private crew to the ISS in 2022

Katie Ramirez
January 29, 2021

Spacewalking astronauts installed a high-speed data link outside the International Space Station's European lab on Wednesday and tackled other improvements. Three people have also been selected to fly with the SpaceX rocket, which means that 3 private passengers will go to the special station next year.

Writing in Air & Space previous year about the process of jettisoning objects, veteran NASA engineer Mike Engle explained how launching decommissioned parts from the space station can be a risky process, a fact that prompted him to help create an official ISS Jettison Policy to ensure that such activities are carried out safely.

Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut and Axiom Vice President, will command the flight, joined by the former Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe and two private investors, the US real estate entrepreneur Larry Connor and the Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy, the Houston-based space start-up Axiom said.

A private company has revealed what it says will be the first commercial crew to fly to the International Space Station. The first crew would spend about eight days at the space station and would take one or two days for getting aboard there a SpaceX Dragon capsule following liftoff from Cape Canaveral.

Before its 2022 launch, the Ax-1 mission will be subject to approval from NASA and its global partners.

That program, brokered by private company Space Adventures, sent seven paying customers on multi-days visits to the ISS but was stopped in 2009 when crew size on the station increased.

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In 2019, NASA confirmed in a press release that private stays on the space station will be quite expensive while announcing that it is opening the ISS for commercial business. These trips, much more affordable with seats going for hundreds of thousands versus millions could kick off this year. He is joined by Mark Pathy, a Canadian financer in the profession, and Eytan Stibbe, an Israeli businessman, who is also known for his close friendship with the late Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut.

"These guys are all very involved and doing it... for the betterment of their communities and countries, and so we couldn't be happier with this make-up of the first crew because of their drive and their interest", Suffredini said.

These people will be led by a former NASA astronaut.

Each of the private astronauts had to pass medical tests and will get 15 weeks of training.

. Former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who holds the record for the longest time spent in space by a NASA astronaut, will serve as backup commander, and John Shoffner as the backup pilot.

And finally Rubins and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi will work on other updates outside the ISS at a date to be determined.

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