The names of those who will form the first human crew made up entirely of private individuals headed for the International Space Station have just been officially issued. If everything goes well, the flight will start very soon.
The mission is the total management and responsibility of the company Axiom Space, involved in aerospace for years and which more recently has strongly pushed to be one of the first companies to “board” the ISS as a private aerospace company (following freewheel the already famous
Axiom is trying to build its own staff of astronauts and vehicles, or at least this is the project that is expected for the future. For now the company has received the first important “free way” from NASA, that is the complete approval of the crew that will compose the mission Ax-1, directed towards the ISS.
The crew will be four people who now work privately for Axiom (both in the long term and in contracts for “occasional performance”). NASA and its international partners have approved the crew and also set a first date for launch, i.e. 28 February 2022 (let’s see that there may be some delay).
The Ax-1 crew will include Michael López-Alegría (comandante), Larry Connor (pilot of mission), Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe (both mission specialists). López-Alegría is the vice president of Axiom Space and the only veteran astronaut on board: he took part in several Shuttle missions in the past and flew into space four times (including an Expedition to the ISS). The remaining three members are people who have no aerospace past, but rather are entrepreneurs, activists, businessmen and aircraft pilots.
The team will remain on the ISS for a total of eight days, where it will take part in several experiments conducted in microgravity environment. These missions – besides the scientific importance in themselves – also have the task of demonstrating the increasing accessibility of the low Earth’s orbit, opening the doors of space to people with different cultures, ethnicities and social classes.
It is no coincidence that the plans of Axiom have the will – in the future – to build the first entirely private space station, and to create something that may resemble a luxury space hotel. It is not clear whether the two ideas will coincide, but it is clear that the company has taken the ball to the fore since the ISS is about to retire.