Return of X-1 Private Mission

Houston-based, company Axiom Space There is an ambition to become a major player in the commercialization of human spaceflight. The firm thus signed an agreement with NASA to add its own modules to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2024. While waiting for this period, Axiom Space wants to conduct private missions in the orbital complex and Ax-1 The first of them.

A private mission of the ISS

The Ax-1 crew was instructed by a former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, Now Vice-President of Axiom Space. In this way he was with the customers of Axiom Space, i.e. American 8 Larry Connor (Pilot position), Canadian Mark Pathi And Israeli Etan Steve (As a mission expert). It is possible to stay at ISS following an agreement with NASA (including payment). For transportation, Axiom called SpaceX SpaceX, more specifically its Crew Dragon Endeavor capsule, which was used exclusively for the Crew-2 flight with Thomas Pesket, and earlier, for the Demo-2. Endeavor was therefore finishing its third flight here (spaceX capsules reusable).
The Falcon 9 Apex was lifted off April 8 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (video below).

Arrival on the ISS board took place the next day, April 9th. Expedition 67’s 7 astronauts welcomed the Ax-1’s 4.

Welcome to Ax-1 to 4 ISS. Center and left to right: Mark Pathi, Eitan Stebe, Larry Connor and Michael Lopez-Alegria. Clockwise around them from the bottom right: Thomas Marshburn, Oleg Artemiev, Denis Matviv, Sergei Korsakov, King Chari, Kayla Baron and Matthias Maure.
Credit: NASA

The 3 Axiom space passengers (Connor, Pathi and Steve) each paid an estimated 50 million for the trip, which was originally supposed to last about ten days. Their training lasts for a year. They also decided to take a little lead with them More than twenty scientific experiments, Related to some medical research. The return was originally scheduled for April 18, but bad weather on the Florida coast made landing impossible. So we had to wait April 25 For the time being. The AX-1’s Crew Dragon crashed into the Atlantic Ocean from Jacksonville at 1:06 p.m. local time.

The Ax-1 Crew Dragon Endeavor capsule hit the Atlantic Ocean on April 25 after re-entering the atmosphere and descending under 4 parachutes.  Credit: SpaceX

The Ax-1 Crew Dragon Endeavor capsule hit the Atlantic Ocean on April 25 after re-entering the atmosphere and descending under 4 parachutes.
Credit: SpaceX

In the end, this personal mission will last 17 days. Larry Connor, Mark Pathi and Eaton Steebe reasonably felt their space baptism there when their commander Michael Lopez-Alegria landed for the fifth time in orbit, accumulating a total of 275 days.

American version of “Space Travel”

This is not the first time that the ISS has hosted private astronauts who provide their own “tickets” and are often referred to as space tourists. Russia made the first such flight in 2001 with the American Dennis Tito in their Soyuz spacecraft. Others have recently followed the Japanese Yusaku Amezawa and Yojo Hirano (Soyuz MS-20 flight in December 2021). This is not the first personal American mission. The title went to Inspiration4 in September 2021, funded by Jared Isaacman. However, Inspiration4 did not go to ISS and orbited the Earth for about 3 days.
Its noveltyAx-1 First of all it is true that this is the first private flight by an American company to the ISS with an American ship.

After 4 landings of Ax-1, their crew is leaving Dragon.  From left to right: Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eitan Steve, Mark Pathi and Larry Connor.  Credit: SpaceX / City of Space

After 4 landings of Ax-1, their crew is leaving Dragon. From left to right: Michael Lopez-Alegria, Eitan Steve, Mark Pathi and Larry Connor.
Credit: SpaceX / City of Space

Why are we talking about the first completely private mission in the ISS when people have already paid for their tickets at the station with Soyuz? The reason is The crew of the Ax-1 is completely private. In fact, previous “tourist” flights to the Russian side included at least 1 astronaut from the Roscosmos Agency. It should be noted here that Michael Lopez-Allegria, who was admittedly a NASA astronaut, flew for Ax-1 as Vice-President of Axiom Space and not as a state space agency astronaut.
Through the Ax-1, the United States is therefore consolidating its position in the orbital space tourism market, which was once dominated by Russia (even if the marketing of the Soyuz flight is called American company Space Adventure). With the war in Ukraine, Russia’s aerospace sector may face difficulties in selling such services, except for citizens of countries that have not voted in favor of economic sanctions against Russia.

In conclusion, let us recall that Axiom Space has planned another personal Ax-2 mission at the end of 2022 or early 2023 and it will dock its own commercial module with ISS in 2024. Alenia Space, created in Italy by European industrialist Thales, will allow the Houston firm to expand its range of services (specific locations, tests performed in this module, etc.). It then seeks to detach from the ISS and add other components until an autonomous station is found.

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