Beginning of a New Era: SpaceX launches first private AX-1 Astronaut Mission

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched Ax-1, a mission from Houston-based Axiom Space centre, today (April 8) at 11:17 a.m. EDT (1517 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center here on the Florida space coast. This is the first fully privately crewed mission to the ISS.

“Together, a new chapter begins,” said John Rackham of Axiom Space in today’s launch webcast. “With Godspeed, Ax1!”

The Launch Time Of Axiom Ax1 Mission

After a perfect departure, the crew officially began their 10-day journey, including 8 days on the International Space Station. SpaceX’s Ax-1 Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock with the orbital laboratory today (April 9) at 7:45 AM EST (11:45 GMT).

The Ax1 was the fifth flight of the Falcon 9 1st stage, and the Booster also made a precision landing 9.5 minutes after SpaceX’s drone ship a shortfall of Gravitas, which was also in the Atlantic Ocean and made a fifth landing.

Derek Hassmann, director of Axiom Space said: “It’s been a very tough year and a half since we developed the mission from scratch, doing something I’d never done before.” He said at a pre-launch press conference (April 7),”Very useful.”

Update: Ax-1 launched successfully Friday morning from Kennedy Space Center. The four astronauts are en route to the International Space Station and should arrive Saturday morning.

Read: Axiom Space Ax-1: Launch Date, Mission Goals, And What’s Next

The Crew And Their Responsibilities

Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria is currently Vice President of Business Development at Axiom. He departed today with mission pilot Larry Connor and mission experts Eitan Stibbe and Mark Pathy.

Connor is a real estate entrepreneur and pilot familiar with 16 aircraft. Pathy is the CEO and Chairman of MARVIK, a Canadian sustainable investment firm. Stibbe is a founding partner of the investment fund Vital Capital Impact.

Stibbe was also an Israeli Air Force fighter pilot and became the second Israeli to reach space. The first, Ilan Ramon, was an astronaut who died in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. In honor of Ramon, Stibbe and the Ramona family co-founded the non-profit Ramon Foundation.

Commander Lopez-Alegria has not paid for a seat on the mission and will assist other crew members during the journey. The remaining three crew members are estimated to have spent about $55 million each on their seats.

Crew Members Are Not Space Tourists

However, Lopez Alegria and other mission team members emphasized that the three paying customers are not ‘space tourists’.

“It’s a job that requires a lot of preparation, and I don’t think there’s any time to rest.”
Other members of the mission team supported this view.

“The crew members are very well trained. They spent hundreds of hours preparing for this flight,” said former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, now Axiom Space’s head of manned spaceflight, at a pre-flight press conference on April 1.

Also read: NASA’s First Space Tourism Mission To Launch On 3rd April

Target Of Axiom Ax1 Mission

The crew has several tasks planned for the mission, including performing 25 different science experiments. Among these experiments is a “brain headset” from Israeli startup Brain. Space, which Stibbe carries.

The experiment aims to observe how the brain behaves in space and is one of many studies that Stibbe is conducting on behalf of the Ramon Foundation.

The Ax1 team’s experiments will also explore other topics, including aging, stem cells, heart health, Hassmann shared yesterday.

Significance Of The Axiom Ax1 Mission

Michael Saffredini, President and CEO of Axiom Space said, “This is the first step in making this opportunity available to people who want to do meaningful work in a low orbit but are not members of the government.” This was revealed at a press conference on April 1st.

The Ax1 is not only Axiom’s first manned launch, but also the first fully civilian manned mission to a space station. For Axiom Space, this is the first major step towards realizing its own commercial space station in low orbit (LEO), and it is also a first of its kind.

“The company was established to build the next commercial space station,” Hassmann said at a briefing yesterday. He added that the Ax1 was a pioneer in the construction of this station.

“We plan to launch the first module of this commercial space station by the end of 2024,” Axiom said. “It will be connected to the ISS and will eventually be phased out between 2024 and 2030 with the goal of providing a separate commercial LEO. “After the ISS is dismantled,” Hassman said.

“So this preliminary mission is the first of several missions that will lead to the release of the module in 2024,” he added.

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