The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has reportedly signed an order with Axiom Space, Inc., or Axiom, an American space infrastructure developer, for the maiden private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, which is anticipated to take place around January 2022.
The spaceflight, which is designated as Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), would be launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and will travel to the International Space Station. Once the flight is docked, the astronauts from Axiom will supposedly spend eight days aboard the orbiting laboratory.
Apparently, the NASA and Axiom mission planners would also coordinate in-orbit activities for the private astronauts, that would be conducted in coordination with the space station crew members as well as flight controllers on the ground.
Human exploration & operations associate administrator at the NASA Headquarters, Kathy Lueders, expressed her excitement at this initiative, citing that more people would now have access to spaceflight. She claimed that one of the agency’s original goals, through programs like Commercial Crew and Commercial Low-Earth Orbit Development, is to ensure that their providers attract customers besides NASA in order to grow a commercial economy within the low-Earth orbit.
Sources also confirm that Axiom would be acquiring services, inclusive of crew supplies, storage, cargo delivery to space, among other in-orbit resources for daily use, for the mission, from NASA.
It has also been reported that NASA will procure capabilities of returning scientific samples, which need to be maintained cold while transiting back to Earth, from Axiom.
According to the President and CEO of Axiom, Michael Suffredini, the first private crew to drop by the International Space Station would be hailed as a watershed mark in humanity’s expansion off the planet. He also mentioned that the company was glad to partner with NASA in accomplishing this move.
Reportedly, NASA has also opened doors of its space station for commercial activities, such as private astronaut missions, in course of its plan to come up with a robust as well as the competitive economy in low-Earth orbit.