Axiom’s first space mission to the ISS: what you need to know

The Ax-1 crew in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

The Ax-1 crew in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
Photo: SpaceX

This On Friday, the SpaceX rocket will attempt to take off from the Kennedy Space Center with four civilians on board. This is the first completely private mission on the ISS that could set a precedent-staging a mission. Here’s what you need to know before this historic launch.

The Ax-1 crew, which includes a retired NASA astronaut, will board the Crew Dragon capsule on April 8 and explode at 11:17 a.m. EST on top of the Falcon 9 rocket. Axiom Space, will serve as another important milestone in the current privatization of space. Here are five things you need to know about the Ax-1 mission.

This is the first completely private mission to the ISS

Last year Mission Inspiration4 will go down in history as the first to send a private crew into space. Ax-1 differs in that it consists of four crews members, all of whom are private citizens, will spend time aboard the International Space Station. This has never happened before.

The closest, I guess, was Russian film crew who last year spent 12 days aboard the ISS to shoot scenes for the film, but this mission of the “Union of MS-19” was not exclusively private, as the commander was cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. Four men who will take part in this new one missions are Michael Lopez-Allegria from the US and Spain, Larry Connor from the US, Eitan Stebbe from Israel and Mark Patty from Canada.

Axiom did not answer the question of how much, if what, crew members paid for their seats. And 2019 press release from the company called the price $ 55 million for private astronaut tickets.

Axiom is a small company with big plans

Axiom Space, founded in 2016, had about 110 employees in February 2021, but it is expanding and has plans by the end of 2024 will reach 1,000 employees. The company has close ties to NASA; Michael Suffredini, former head of NASA’s ISS program, serves as the company’s CEO, and Charles Bolden, former NASA administrator, works as an independent consultant.

Axiom has a long list of potential offerings, including training astronauts, managing private and national flights on the ISS, offering production facilities in orbit, developing space life systems and medical support, among other research and commercialization services. space. It is important to note that the company plans to build a private space station (more on this a bit), which it positions as the future cornerstone of its overall offer.

Ax-1 – a journey for boys

Lopez-Allegria, a former NASA astronaut and vice president of Axiom, will command Ax-1, and Connor, an entrepreneur and investor, will serve as a pilot. Lopez-Allegria has flown into space four times during his 20-year career at NASA, and he is poised to become the first astronaut in history to lead both a civilian and a commercial manned space mission. Pathay and Stibbe, both investors, will serve as mission specialists.

Ax-1 crew (left to right): Larry Connor, Michael Lopez-Allegria, Mark Patty and Eitan Stibe.

Ax-1 crew (left to right): Larry Connor, Michael Lopez-Allegria, Mark Patty and Eitan Stibe.
Picture: Axiom of Space

All members of the Ax-1 crew are men, but former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson serves as the mission’s reserve commander. And on that note, Whitson now plans to lead the Ax-2 mission, scheduled for early 2023.

This is the mission of the “predecessors”.

Axiom describes Ax-1 as the “predecessor” of the astronaut’s private mission. This is the first of four proposed missions, all of which are stepping stones for the company as it looks forward to building its private orbital outpost, dubbed Axiom Station. Construction of the station is scheduled to begin in 2024; a sequence of modules will be gradually added to the Harmony ISS node. On retirement In 2030, the ISS will separate the space station from the outpost to “form the world’s first free-flying, privately designed, internationally available space station – the central hub of the nearest future network of research, production and trade in LEO,” according to Axiom.

Image of the Axiom station connected to the Harmony ISS module.

Image of the Axiom station connected to the Harmony ISS module.
Picture: Axiom of Space

The Ax-1 crew will spend 10 days in space, eight of which will be aboard the American segment of the ISS. The crew will conduct scientific experiments, engage in commercial activities and promote STEM education. The crew will not have time to waste time, as it plans to conduct 25 different experiments in just 100 hours. Ground brigade stationed in the village Axiom Space Flight Control Center in Houston will provide round-the-clock support.

The mission is to bring us closer to space

The crew collaborated with several agencies to perform the series Science and Technology experiments and tests. Some of them have important implications for people living on Earth, but they are primarily aimed at this allows further space exploration. As Axiom explained in Fr. news release“The data collected in flight will affect the understanding of human physiology on Earth and in orbit, and will establish the usefulness of new technologies that can be used for future human spaceflight and humanity on Earth.”

Space helmet with EEG support.

Space helmet with EEG support.
Photo: brain space

A good example is Helmet with EEG supportwhich will be tested and operated by the Ax-1 crew. In collaboration with Ben-Gurion University, the team will record and analyze brain signals to detect potential neurological differences in humans while working in space. Ultimately, the goal is to provide future long-term space missions with an easy-to-use and comfortable helmet and to create “an accurate device for daily measurement of astronauts’ competencies.” brain spaceIsraeli helmet company.

The crew will also experiment with TESSERAE, or mosaic electromagnetic space structures to study reconfigured, adaptive environments. This is futuristic material, as this technology can eventually lead to self-assembly of satellites. Named after the Roman mosaic, the modular TESSERAE are designed to connect to create larger structures such as rooms and parabolic mirrors. During the Ax-1, the team will test prototypes capable of experiencing the quality of the connection between the tiles.

An image of the future TESSERAE space station, which is self-assembling in the orbit of Mars.

An image of the future TESSERAE space station, which is self-assembling in the orbit of Mars.
Picture: The MIT Space Initiative / Fraunhofer Institute in Dortmund

Collaborations involving the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and the Montreal Children’s Hospital will study the effects of microgravity on aging, heart health, spinal cord and brain tissue, chronic pain and sleep disorders. The team will also “use aspects of the accelerated aging of the microgravity environment to assess early precancerous and cancerous changes in tumor organelles” and test the new air purification system, among other tasks.

It will all start on Friday, weather permitting. It took a while, but we entered completely an era in which individuals – albeit highly privileged – can fly into low Earth orbit and use space as a personal platform and place to do business. Hopefully they will keep the rest in mind.

Is there any advice or comment for me about the space flight industry? Contact me at george.dvorsky@gizmodo.com.

Leave a Comment