Saturday, May 28

AX-1 takes off, the first private mission to the International Space Station

Space X, the company of tycoon Elon Musk, operates the flight that has sent the first private mission in history to the International Space Station (ISS). Four crew members from the private company Axiom travel on a SpaceX Dragon ship. Three of them are rookies. Michael López-Alegría, commander of the Axiom Space-1 (AX1) mission, is the only experienced astronaut. Born in Madrid, but with American nationality, he flew with NASA into space for the first time in 1995.

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The other three crew members are “investors” who have paid more than 50 million each to Axiom to participate in this mission whose organizers refuse to qualify as “space tourism.” Traveling with López-Alegría are Canadian businessman Mark Pathy, US real estate tycoon Larry Connor and former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe.

“This is a real job that requires a lot of preparation, and I don’t think it’s relaxing,” López-Alegría said last year. to the specialized portal The truth is that the mission, which will last a total of 10 days (of which eight will take place on board the ISS), includes the performance of 25 scientific experiments. It doesn’t look too much like the brief space flights carried out by tycoons like Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson in recent months.

Among the research agreed with different scientific and academic institutions, experiments on self-assembly technology for satellites, future space habitats, the study of cancer stem cells and air purification systems.

The privatization of space

The ultimate objective of the AX-1 is to take the first step in the construction of a future Axiom private space station, for which “hundreds of missions” will be necessary, according to the company itself.

This entire operation represents a decisive milestone towards the privatization in the West of the so-called ‘space race’, since the transport of crews and goods between Earth and the ISS has also been outsourced by NASA to private companies.

“This is really the first step in which a group of individuals who do not belong to any government take advantage of the opportunity to do something significant in low Earth orbit,” said Mike Suffredini, CEO of Axiom and former director of the ISS program at NASA.

These private astronauts are scheduled to live in the US area of ​​the ISS. So far there were seven people on the Space Station, three from the US, a German and three Russian cosmonauts.

According to the planned plan, the ‘guests’ were also going to be received in the Russian sector of the ISS, but it is unknown if the war context of the invasion of Ukraine said meeting will take place. On April 2, Russia threatened to cancel its cooperation on the ISS in response to Western sanctions imposed by the war.