NASA and Axiom Space have released new details about the upcoming AX-1 space mission. This is the first fully private space mission to the International Space Station. The launch is scheduled for January 2022.
During the mission, four astronauts from Axiom Space will be taken to the ISS, NASA writes in a press release. The spaceflight will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in late January. Axiom CEO Michael Sufferdini said there is a “high level of confidence” in this launch period. Axiom uses a Crew Dragon capsule from SpaceX to launch the four astronauts to the ISS. Once arrived, the Axiom astronauts will spend eight days aboard the International Space Station.
Mission planners from Axiom and NASA will coordinate the astronauts’ activities within the ISS, which the crew will conduct in conjunction with the rest of the ISS crew. It would be the first time that a completely private crew is launched to the space station. The flight was already announced in 2020. At that time, the space mission was still expected to take place in the second half of 2021.
Vice president of Axiom and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría will become the commander of the crew, Axiom announced in January. US investor Larry Connor must serve as pilots, while Canadian investor Mark Pathy and former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe must serve as mission specialists during the mission. The pilots have yet to undergo evaluations and training.
It is not known what the four occupants paid for their place on board the space mission. TechCrunch writes that Axiom’s CEO “wouldn’t argue” with the previously reported amounts of tens of millions. For example, the Washington Post reported in January that the astronauts would have paid $55 million each. The same amount was previously mentioned in an article by Space.com.
Axiom and NASA would also each buy services and goods from each other, the space agency reports. It is not known what amounts are involved. TechCrunch writes that NASA is paying at least $1.69 million to Axiom, including for the transport of goods to the ISS.