Shortly after the all-civilian Inspiration4 mission returned to Earth, associate administrator of Space Operations Mission Directorate Kathy Lueders announced that Axiom will be launching its private mission to the ISS on February 21, 2022.
Axiom 1 mission to the ISS
Axiom Space was founded in 2016, and aims to bring private commercial missions to the International Space Station starting next year. Its first mission, Ax-1, will be launching to the ISS on February 21. SpaceX will be launching the mission and carry the four-person crew to the ISS in a Dragon Capsule.
The crew includes Michael López-Alegría; a former NASA Astronaut and VP of Axiom Space who will serve as the mission commander. Larry Connor will serve as the mission Pilot. Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe will be flying to the station as Mission Specialists.
This is one of a growing number of private space missions. Earlier this year, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson each took brief sub-orbital flights into space. Then Inspiration4 turned heads, as three amateur astronauts took flight in a SpaceX Dragon capsule and orbited the Earth for nearly three days. This will be the first private mission from the US to visit the ISS, but not the first time for paying customers.
Tourists visiting the International Space Station
It seems like throughout the end of this year, the Space Station will become something of a tourist attraction. In October, there will be a movie filmed on the ISS. Director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild will be flying to the station for ten days in order to create the film. Then Yusaka Maezowa will be visiting the Space Station from December 8 to 20. Maezowa is the creator of the dearMoon project, which aims to fly 8 artists around the moon in Starship. Both of the trips to the ISS will be taking place in the Russian Soyuz capsule, with a Russian Cosmonaut as commander.
Axiom has many missions planned ahead of them. The Ax-2 will fly the winner of a Discovery Channel show, while eventually, Tom Cruise will be flying to space on an Axiom mission to film scenes of a movie of his own.
Despite best efforts, space is still not “Open to All”
Currently, you need to be selected as a NASA Astronaut or be extraordinarily wealthy in order to fly into orbit (and in both cases, you need to be in good health). The health requirements will slowly change. Hayley Arceneaux was the first person with a prosthesis to fly, and the research from that mission will slowly help to expand who is able to reach space. The European Space Agency is searching for its first Parastronaut. Still – space is unfortunately still not open for all. There are still many physical and psychological requirements in order to fly – even on private missions.
Eventually, as spaceflight becomes more and more routine, and perhaps spacecraft with 100+ seats become available, space will slowly become accessible to more people.
In the meantime, the millionaires and billionaires (or lucky contest winners) can fly to space by booking a ride with Space – or perhaps Blue Origin, if they only want a couple of minutes and prefer to save a buck. I would perhaps hold off on booking a trip with Virgin Galactic for the time being though…
The Axiom 1 mission to the ISS won’t be some ground breaking change to the routine, but perhaps it will bring space one step closer to all of mankind.