NASA and Texas-based Axiom Space agree to terms for first private astronaut International Space Station, Which will be launched soon in January 2022.
The deal, announced Monday (May 10), will cover only a fraction of the classified transactions required to make such an aircraft a reality, but will result in a net fee of up to $ 1.69 million from Axis to Axis. This agreement will allow axiomatic Send retired NASA astronaut and three passengers To the spacecraft cruise lab in the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule for a week-long trip on the first group space station mission exclusively for private interests.
“This is truly a renaissance in American human spaceflight, and I think this is the right word for what we are experiencing,” said Bill McAllister, NASA’s Director of Business Space Development at a news conference on Monday. “You can feel history increase when you’re in it, but I feel like we’re in it this year. I think this is a real penetration point, with human space travel.”
This mission, known as AX-1, marks a new milestone in NASA’s ongoing drive to turn low-Earth orbit operations into commercial enterprises: first by transporting companies to the space station, and then by hiring SpaceX And Boeing to develop now-operating team vehicles, by now opening the station to companies.
Until now, a handful of non-professional astronauts who have visited the space station have done so with regard to missions focused on sustainable government priorities in orbit. On AX-1, travelers will pursue research and development projects independent of NASA’s work in orbit.
“We are delighted to see more people accessing space travel with this first private spaceflight to the space station,” said Kathy Louders, Associate Administrator for Human Research and Operations at NASA. Said in a statement. “One of our original objectives with the Business Group project, again with our Business Low Earth Orbit Development Program, is to have our providers have clients other than NASA to grow the business economy in low Earth orbit.”
The path to get started
Ax-1 is scheduled to explode from Florida Kennedy Space Center A total of about 10 days will be spent on the aircraft as soon as January 2022, eight of which will be spent on space stations. This group is the first in NASA’s effort to promote commercial growth in low Earth orbit. The company wants companies to acquire this part of human space travel so that they can spend time and money on distant places like the moon and Mars.
Retired NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, senior of four space missions and vice president of Axiom Space, saw his first launch in more than a decade. Three passengers paying Joining him: Larry Connor, an American real estate entrepreneur, who will serve as a pilot on the mission; Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Patty; And Israeli businessman and fighter pilot Eaton Stebe.
It is not common knowledge how much each passenger has paid for the experience. “We don’t usually talk about the specific payments our customers make,” Axis CEO Michael Safredini told a news conference. “It’s widely reported in the tens of thousands, I would not argue, but we do not usually talk about specific prices.”
These four were the first full private crew to visit the International Space Station; Previous Private astronauts Have flown in as an individual with government astronauts carrying out a routine mission. Axis has been selected for each of the planned flights, which are arranged to be led by a retired astronaut.
“The Ax-1 team has cut back on that work,” Lopez-Allegri said during a news conference. “We accept responsibility for setting the barrier to future private missions, and we accept that challenge. Eaton, Larry and Mark are very serious individuals who are dedicated to being the best they can be in the NASA astronaut’s axis. They are not interested in being tourists.”
Axiom does not yet know which SpaceX vehicle will launch its mission, Safredini said. “It depends on when the trips occur, so we can be in the Crew-2, but it really depends on how things are progressing.” (That capsule, dubbing Try, Is currently docked at the space station during its second crew arrival.)
Safredini noted that Axiom’s arrangements are on track and will include dumping in the event of any delays.
Lopez-Allegri said he and the rest of the team will begin training activities later this month. In July, the entire crew will arrive in the foothills of Alaska for teamwork, and he and Connor will train with SpaceX for a week. Crew Dragon Vehicle in particular. The crew will focus on full-time training starting in October, and he will focus more on both the International Space Station and the Crew Dragon.
A bargain plane
Axiom is required to obtain complex arrangement of contracts with partners including SpaceX, Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center and many more. The newly announced deal with NASA is only part of that puzzle.
NASA and Axis representatives told a news conference that the deal would include food and water for the crew, professional astronaut time to prepare the space station for the vehicle’s arrival and other costs related to visiting the space station. The full text of the agreement is not publicly available.
The costs attached to the contract were determined in 2019 NASA first announced Two private astronauts per year will be ready to welcome to the space station, up to 30 days each. At the time, NASA officials estimated that one visit would cost 000 35,000 per night.
Between that pricing plan, NASA pays for the contract, which does not represent a detailed calculation of work costs, and for storage capacity on return flight to Earth for scientific payloads to be cooled, the new deal pays a balance to NASA Axis 69 1.69 million.
However, the only task that flies at such a bargain rate is the Ax-1. In late April, NASA updated prices for space station visits, SpaceNews reported Earlier this month. According to publication calculations, the cost increase is dramatic.
“Under the old policy, an imaginary four-person life support and team supplies for the ISS would cost $ 945,000 a week, which does not include a level, data or power.” Wrote SpaceNews. “Under the new policy, freight, food and delivery charges for the same work will be more than $ 2.5 million at the lower end of the quoted cost limits, and more than $ 10 million per mission charge.”
According to NASA officials, the price change is due to the fact that Axiom and other similar companies want to pay more attention to the space station.
Angela Hart, Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, told a news conference: “We are very interested in private astronaut missions.
“At this point, we hope that demand will actually be the opportunities at the station,” he said, adding that the lack of a balance between supply and demand meant that time at the space station was “such a limited resource” to clarify why the company had renewed the practice of visiting businesses.
What’s next for Axiom
Presumably, opportunities for private astronauts will be distributed among many companies. “We’re not just peas in pods,” Safredini said.
However, Axiom has three more trips planned, Safredini noted, and its views are set on an ambitious flight schedule. “We want to fly to one side [of] Twice a year; It will operate once every seven months or so, “he said, adding that Axiom’s schedule depends on the schedule of SpaceX, Boeing and the space station.
Axis has recently come to the brokerage news of a last-minute location for NASA Russian Soyuz capsule Launched in April. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hey occupied the space and joined Russian astronauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov; The trio now have a month to stay in their orbit. In return, NASA will fly the Axiom selected astronaut in a U.S. commercial vehicle in 2023.
Axium also sends a deal with NASA Living business block Dock with the International Space Station. The company then plans to disassemble the block, which will become the site of an independent space station fully operated by Axis.
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