NASA approves Ax-2 mission to the International Space Station

Five months after completing its first private mission to the International Space Station (ISS), NASA has signed an agreement with the second, which will take place in the spring of 2023. As with its first private mission to the ISS, the space agency will partner with Texas-based Axiom Space for the second trip, and will also use SpaceX spacecraft to deliver the crew.

SpaceX will deliver the Ax-2 crew to the ISS. Photo: NASA

The exact cost of a place in one of the private NASA astronaut missions has not been disclosed. Although numerous news reports indicate that while traveling on Ax-1, each traveler forked out a huge 55 million dollars for a unique experience in space. 

Next year, the Ax-2 mission will last about 10 days. The participants will work on various scientific experiments during their stay on board the station at an altitude of approximately 400 km above the Earth. The Ax-1 mission was also supposed to last 10 days, but bad weather conditions at the landing site off the coast of Florida led to a delay in the return, so the crew received an additional seven days in orbit.

The crew of four people in the framework of the Ax-2 mission is still unknown. But, judging by preliminary reports from NASA, it seems likely that one of them will be an experienced astronaut Peggy Whitson, who participated in several flights on Soyuz spacecraft. This is in line with NASA’s recently revised rules, which state that for safety reasons, future private missions should be led by individuals with extensive flight experience. The other three passengers will be civilians who will travel to space for the first time, who have allowed themselves tickets for a very expensive flight.

Ax-1 crew training before the flight to the ISS

“We cooperate with commercial space companies and develop the economy in low Earth orbit. Private missions help the space industry learn and develop the skill set to conduct such flights. NASA also benefits from the additional capabilities of such missions, for example, the return of additional cargo from the space station,” said Phil McAllister, director of NASA commercial space.

Axiom’s Derek Hassmann stated that the company’s second private mission for space tourists “builds on the success of Ax-1, which demonstrated the ability of our team to work together with our partners from NASA and SpaceX to plan and execute complex missions to safely send people into space”. Hassmann added that the missions help his team develop its expertise and attract new customers in preparation for the launch of its own space station Axiom Station, which can replace the ISS when it is decommissioned in 2031.

Earlier we reported on how the Ax-1 crew told about their impressions on the ISS.

According to NASA

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time