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Wed, Sep 13, 2023

Axiom 3 Crew-Members Approved

Cadence of Private Astronaut Missions to ISS Remains Steady

NASA and its international partners have approved the personnel by which Axiom Space’s third private astronaut mission—Axiom Space 3 (Ax-3)—to the International Space Station will be crewed.

The mission, which will launch from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center no earlier than January 2024, will be commanded by Axiom Space chief astronaut and former NASA astronaut Micheal López-Alegría and flown by Italian Air Force Colonel and mission pilot Walter Villadei. The four-man crew will be rounded out by mission specialists Alper Gezeravci of Turkey and ESA (European Space Agency) project astronaut Marcus Wandt of Sweden.

Angela Hart, manager of NASA’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, stated: “I am proud to see NASA and industry’s continued dedication toward enabling private astronaut missions. These commercial efforts continue to expand opportunity and access to microgravity research and discovery. Each of these missions is a next step in building our shared future in low Earth orbit.”

Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) will be borne spaceward within a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule perched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Once docked to the International Space Station, the four Ax-3 crewmen will spend approximately 14-days conducting scientific, commercial, and outreach activities.

Axiom Space president and CEO Michael Suffredini remarked: “Axiom Space’s selection to lead the next private astronaut mission to the International Space Station enables us to continue expanding access to nations, academia, commercial entities, and emerging industries to research, test, and demonstrate new technologies in microgravity. As NASA’s focus shifts back to the Moon and on to Mars, we are committed to transforming low-Earth orbit into a global space marketplace, where access to space moves beyond the partners of the space station to nations, institutions, and individuals with new ideas fueling a thriving human economy beyond Earth.”

Ax-3 mission commander Micheal López-Alegría set forth: “It is an honor to command another private astronaut mission with Axiom Space and lead a dynamic crew of professional operators representing several nations across one region of the world. This crew is shifting the paradigm of how governments and space agencies access and reap the benefits of microgravity. … I look forward to working with this team and with all those who will support our mission on the ground, on orbit, and around the world.”

The first private astronaut mission to the ISS was Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), also commanded by López-Alegría, which launched in April 2022 with four private astronauts who spent 17-days aboard the orbital outpost. In May 2023, Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), lifted off for a nine-day stint aboard the space station.

For nearly 23 years, NASA has supported a continuous U.S. human presence in low Earth orbit aboard the space station. The agency's goal is to enable a strong, commercial marketplace in low Earth orbit where NASA is one of many customers for private industry. This strategy will provide services the government needs at a lower cost, enabling the agency to focus on its Artemis missions to the Moon in preparation for Mars while continuing to use low Earth orbit as a training and proving ground for those deep space missions.

FMI: www.nasa.gov/leo-economy/low-earth-orbit-economy

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