After months of training, four crew members are ready to embark on the SpaceX rocket on their first full-fledged solo trip to the International Space Station. The release will take place this Friday, April 8 at 5:17 pm, from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The mission, dubbed Ax-1, will last ten days, with eight stations. The group includes three American, Canadian and Israeli businessmen, each paying millions of dollars.
The Ax-1 private jet took off# ISS (From Capsule Crew Dragon #SpaceX) Metropolitan France was soon adjourned until 5:17 pm on April 8th. Passengers: Mark Patty, Larry Connor, Michael Lopez-Alegria and Aidan Stebe. pic.twitter.com/K8IDKj8pJa
– Space City (iteCiteEspace) April 4, 2022
Accompanying them was astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA employee who became an employee of Axiom Space, the American company that organized the voyage. “We are not space tourists,” he argued at a news conference in February. “This is not really a holiday.”
—SpaceX (SpaceX) April 6, 2022
“They would not go there to insert their noses out the window. They go there to do important research, ”said Michael Suffredini, boss of Axiom Space, which is organizing the trip.
26 on-site experiences
Neo-astronauts actually have to carry out 26 scientific experiments in conjunction with research centers on Earth. For example, the autonomic system of stem cells, a role in heart health or weight loss. Since the ISS lab is currently a bit crowded, they will also use the opportunity to bring NASA’s experiments back to Earth.
The crew, trained at the U.S. Space Agency in Houston and SpaceX in California, will operate in the U.S. division of the station.
Axiom Space has reached an agreement with SpaceX for a total of four missions. NASA has already formally approved a second policy, the Ax-2, which charges for accommodation.
A new space station soon
As for Axiom Space, it is the first step towards an ambitious goal: the construction of its own space station. “These missions allow us to rehearse on a small scale,” explained Michael Safredini.
The first batch of this private station is scheduled to launch in September 2024. The organization will first merge with the ISS and then gain autonomy when it retires in 2030.
This movement to privatize low orbit is encouraged by NASA, which no longer wants to manage the operation of a station, but rather wants to hire the services of private structures to focus on remote exploration.