With the private Ax-1 mission to the ISS, a new milestone in the new era of commercial space flight was set out from Florida on Friday morning. Ax-1 stands for Axiom-1, Axiom Space’s first crewed mission. The firm has big intentions to replace the ISS and run Axiom Station (the company’s commercial space station) in orbit which is why the mission is known as; the Axiom mission.
Ax-1 Mission Takes Off
On April 8, 2022, at 11:17 a.m. EDT (1517 GMT), a SpaceX Falcon 9 spacecraft launched Ax-1, an Axiom mission from Houston-based business Axiom Space, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast. No government astronauts served as crew members throughout the trip. Instead, the crew’s spacecraft flyers were all privately booked to take off. It’s the world’s first entirely private spaceflight mission to the orbital lab.
A statement on SpaceX’s website describing the launch reads, “Dragon performed a sequence of burns on its trip to the International Space Station that brought the craft increasingly closer to the station before it performed final docking procedures, which were followed by pressurizing the vestibule, opening the hatch, and allowing the crew to board.”
The Falcon 9 launcher, which has already launched several SpaceX flights for Starlink, a few militaries and pentagon contracts, and numerous resupply missions for the International Space Station, is making its fifth flight with this mission.
Ax-1 Mission Experience
The weather was excellent for the launch of the Ax-1 mission, and the sky looked simply stunning, so no harm was done or expected. Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Allegria pilots a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule at the vehicle’s apex. A team of private crew members is on board for a 10-day mission on the ISS. All team members have paid for the seats in which, one is a retired astronaut while the others are space flyers. There are a total of four crew members as space flyers on the board. Although the four astronauts have worked as investors and entrepreneurs, they intend to undertake a wide range of experiments, from biomedical research related to cancer to conducting a study regarding self-assembly robots.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 flew for the sixth time on Ax-1. The rocket also made its fifth landing, landing precisely 9.5 minutes after launch on the SpaceX drone ship. The drone ship is known as; “A Shortfall of Gravitas” which is stationed/located in the Atlantic Ocean.
Meet The Space Flyers Of Axiom Mission
Michael López-Alegra, Axiom’s VP is a retired NASA astronaut and is allowed to operate Ax-1 for this mission without paying for his seat. Other than the main pilot, the other two pilots are Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy. Eytan and Mark are regarded as mission experts whenever it comes to space flights. This is the reason why they were selected, as it was the first-ever private mission to land on a different space station titled: “Axiom Space Station” so the pick of crew members had to be the best one.
The best part is, all the three crew members have paid for their seats themselves except López-Alegra, as he didn’t pay for his seat. Instead, he became a guide for the other crew members to do so, and how to space fly successfully during the Axiom Misson. Pathy is the CEO and head of the Canadian sustainable investing business “MARVIK”, while Stibbe is a founding member of the Vital Capital Impact investment fund. He has served as a former pilot in the Israel air force and is known to be the second-ever Israeli to ever fly a spacecraft.
Before Stibbe, Ramon was the first-ever astronaut to fly a spacecraft however sadly, he died in the Columbia space shuttle disaster back in 2003. After the tragic incident, Stibbie alongside Ramon’s family co-founded Ramon Foundation, which is a charity foundation to pay honor to Ramon so that he can be remembered forever for his work.
All of these space travelers are not just specialists, but also incredibly successful businessmen. This is the reason why they were able to pay for the seat. According to experts, it is estimated that the cost per seat of the Ax-1 mission is around $55 million. However, López-Alegra has mentioned during a discussion with the media, that the three crew members who have paid for their seats are not space tourists. Instead, they are space flyers. The reason why he mentioned this is because many space travelers have paid for their seats just to witness the special moment of flying into space.
The crew members who were launched into space on April 8th, 2022 are set to stay there for about 10 days. For the 10-day frame, the crew has a variety of activities planned, including working on 25 different scientific experiments. As per the insides, Stibbe is using a “brain headgear” from the Israeli firm “Brain.Space” as part of his research work. This experiment is one of many that Stibbe is doing on behalf of the Ramon Foundation to see how one’s brain behaves in space. Also as per Hassmann, the Ax-1 team’s research would look into aging, heart health, stem cells, and other areas respectively.
Mission Ax-1 Accomplished!
Axiom Space’s first human spaceflight and the first all-private astronaut trip to the International Space Station were successfully completed on Monday, April 25, 2022, at 1:06 p.m. ET after spending 17 days in orbit by Dragon and the Ax-1 crew of the company. On Friday, April 8 at 11:17 a.m. ET, Falcon 9 lifted out from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying Dragon and the Ax-1 crew to the orbiting laboratory.
The Ax-1 trip to the space station is not merely Axiom’s first crewed launch or the first entirely private crewed mission. It is the first significant step for Axiom Space toward the development of its own commercial space station in low Earth orbit (LEO), which is anticipated to be the first of its type.
In the conference yesterday, Hassmann stated that the firm was established to build the following commercial space station. A predecessor mission to the construction of that station, he said, is Ax-1.
Axiom proposes to “late 2024 will see the first module of that commercial space station launch. In order to ultimately separate and provide the preferred commercial LEO destination once ISS has been retired, it will be attached to the ISS and gradually expand that space station between 2024 and 2030 “Says Hassman.
Therefore, he said, “This precursor mission is the first of several that will precede that module launch in 2024.”
Although Ax-1 is the first all-civilian trip to space, it may be the first wholly private crewed mission to the ISS. Inspiration4, a three-day, four-person mission that SpaceX launched in September 2021, has the honor.