International Space Station’s first all-private astronaut team docked to orbiting platform
Illustration by an artist of the Axiom Modules attached to International Space Station.
A private team of first-ever astronauts was launched safely to the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft will be carrying out a scientific mission for the next week. This historic achievement in commercial spaceflight has been hailed as a major milestone.
It took 21 hours for the team from Houston, Axiom Space Inc to rendezvous. They had taken off Friday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Friday and rode a SpaceX-launched Falcon 9 Rocket.
At around 8:30 a.m. GMT (1230 GMT), the Crew Dragon capsule was lifted to orbit by the rocket. The two spacecraft were approximately 250 miles (220 km) above central Atlantic Ocean. NASA live-broadcasts the coupling.
A technical problem caused the final approach to be delayed. The video feed that monitors the capsule’s rendezvous at ISS was disrupted by the glitch. Crew Dragon had to suspend for 45 minutes due to the technical glitch. Mission control was unable fix the problem.
Once docking had been completed, expect it to take approximately two more hours for the enclosed passageway between space station crew capsule and the space station to be pressurized. Before hatches can open, they will be checked for any leaks.
Michael Lopez-Alegria (63), the company’s vice-president for business development, led the multinational Axiom group, which was to spend eight day in orbit.
Larry Connor was his second-in command, a technology entrepreneur from Ohio and an aerobatics aviator. He was designated the mission pilot. Connor is now in his 70s, but his exact age was not disclosed by the company.
Rounding out the Ax-1 crew were investor-philanthropist and former Israeli fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe, 64, and Canadian businessman and philanthropist Mark Pathy, 52, both serving as mission specialists.
Stibbe was the second Israeli astronaut to go into space after Ilan Ramon who died with six NASA colleagues in 2003’s Columbia spacecraft disaster.
They will be joining the existing ISS occupants of seven regular, government-paid space station crew members — three American astronauts, a German astronaut from the European Space Agency and three Russian cosmonauts.
Two dozen scientific and medical experiments were brought aboard by the new arrivals, which included research on brain health and cancer, and a demonstration of technology to make optics from fluids suspended in microgravity.
Axiom collaborates on the mission Elon Musk’sSpaceX and NASA have both hailed the launch of their rocket companies as an important step towards expanding commercial space activities.
NASA officials claim that the new trend will allow the U.S. to focus its resources more on large-science exploration. This includes its Artemis program, which sends humans to Mars and back to the Moon.
The space station has had civilian visitors in the past, but the Ax-1 mission is the first time an all-commercial crew of astronauts was sent to ISS as an orbiting research lab.
SpaceX’s Axiom flight is also the sixth in nearly two-years of human spaceflights. It follows four NASA missions to space station, and an Inspiration 4 launch in September which sent an all-civilian crew up to orbit. The flight didn’t dock with ISS.
Axiom executive say that their private space station plans and astronaut ventures go beyond what is offered by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic to thrill-seekers who are billionaires. Jeff Bezos Richard Branson.