Ax-1, the first private mission to the International Space Station (ISS), has successfully completed the docking maneuver. The flight operated by Space X, the company of tycoon Elon Musk, has thus completed a 22-hour journey from Earth. The mission includes the performance of 25 scientific experiments and is considered the first step in the construction of a commercial space station.
The Axiom capsule came into contact with the ISS at 12:39 GMT (2:39 p.m. Spanish time), a little less than an hour later than initial forecasts, and, after the relevant maneuvers, the flight crew will enter the station . The capsule has docked autonomously to the space-oriented port of the ISS Harmony module and, except for video camera problems that prevented viewers on the ground from seeing the final leg of the journey from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and a One hour late arrival, everything went as planned.
The Falcon 9 rocket that propelled the Dragon spacecraft into space had lifted off at 3:17 p.m. GMT on Friday, April 8, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Once aboard the ISS, the Axiom crew will be greeted by Expedition 67, made up of NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chariy and Kayla Barron, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurery and astronauts Russian Roscosmos Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsokovy and Denis Matveev.
The four crew members, from the Axiom Space company, will spend eight days aboard the station. Michael López-Alegría, mission commander, is the only experienced astronaut. Born in Madrid, but with American nationality, he flew with NASA into space for the first time in 1995. His three companions are rookies: they are investors who have each paid 55 million dollars for the ticket to travel to space.
US space agency administrator Bill Nelson on Friday called the Ax-1 launch “historic” and said NASA’s partnership with private companies through commercial cargo and crew programs has led the United States to “this new era in human spaceflight.”
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 first step towards a commercial space station
The Ax-1 mission, in addition to being the first commercial visit to the ISS, is the second fully commercial flight put into orbit after the Inspiration4 mission last September, also with private financing and also in a SpaceX Dragon capsule.
As highlighted on Thursday at a press conference prior to this Friday’s launch, Ax-1 will be scientific in nature and its members will carry out “innovative” research experiments while in the so-called orbital laboratory.
Derek Hassmann, director of operations at Axiom Space, highlighted the importance of the mission in relation to the goal of this Texas-based company to build the next commercial space station between 2024 and 2030, and which will be connected to the ISS .
“It is the first of several missions that will continue in the year 2024 that will test our capabilities” for the fulfillment of this objective, Hassmann added.