Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Axiom Space’s first all-private astronaut mission crew return safely to Earth

The Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew and the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft safely splashed down off the coast of Florida after delays due to bad weather back to Earth. The Ax-1 crew’s arrival back to Earth officially concludes the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), successfully demonstrating Axiom Space’s ability to integrate with the ISS and conduct meaningful research.

During their 17-day mission, Ax-1 Commander Michael López-Alegría, Pilot Larry Connor, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy worked aboard the orbiting laboratory for 15 days. They flew approximately 6.3 million miles, about 240 orbits of Earth.

The Ax-1 crew conducted 26 science payloads and technology demonstrations that had been curated with leading academic and research partners around the globe, including the Mayo Clinic, Montreal Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, and the Ramon Foundation. The Axiom astronauts served as research subjects to better understand the impacts of microgravity on the human body, as well as methods for maintaining connectedness to loved ones on Earth during space travel.

Ax-1 is the first of several planned Axiom missions to the ISS and is an important step for Axiom Station, the first commercial space station that will serve as a global academic and commercial hub. The success of Ax-1 provides valuable insight as Axiom Spaceworks toward Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), the details of which Axiom Space is negotiating with NASA.

“The success of this first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station is an important step in opening opportunities for space travelers and achieving NASA’s goal of enabling commercial business off the planet in low-Earth orbit,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This progress has been made possible by NASA’s work with private industry – especially the Commercial Crew Program. I’m incredibly proud of the NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom teams for safely completing this landmark mission. Welcome home, Ax-1!”

On Friday, April 8, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched Dragon and the Ax-1 crew to the ISS. Seventeen days later, Dragon and Ax-1 crew undocked from the space station. The Ax-1 mission, the first all-private mission with a commercial spacecraft, highlights the important role of commercial companies in expanding access to low-Earth orbit. Ax-1 represents the first of four private human spaceflights that Axiom Space has contracted with SpaceX to transport the crew to and from the orbiting laboratory.

“It’s remarkable to think what was once a dream of visionaries is now a reality as we have officially opened a new era in human-spaceflight with Ax-1. This mission pushed the boundaries further and beyond and opened the door to a future that allows access to Space for a much broader and more international audience”, noted Ax-1 Commander Michael López-Alegría.

“The Ax-1 mission would not have been possible without the remarkable team of professionals at Axiom Space, NASA, SpaceX, training teams, our personal friends and family, and so many others who, through sheer passion, enthusiasm, hard work, and resilience helped us to succeed and navigate this uncharted path. On behalf of myself and the Ax-1 Crew, we thank you all. Going to Space is an amazing adventure, but more than anything else, it offers perspective in the most literal sense. You see the world differently and come home with a new frame of reference- a new way of looking at the world. I am personally grateful to have had this opportunity once again, particularly to have shared this experience with Larry, Eytan, and Mark – Thank you! It’s an incredible honor to share this journey with you all. Plvs Vltra.”