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February 27, 2024

Axiom-3 Mission Docks at ISS, Delivering Multinational Crew for Ambitious Research

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Jan 22, 2024

The privately-funded Axiom-3 mission successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on January 20th, delivering an all-European crew for an ambitious two-week research mission. The landmark flight marks expanded cooperation between government agencies and private companies in human spaceflight.

Crew Arrives After Smooth Journey

The four Axiom-3 astronauts – two Turks, one Swede, and one Italian – arrived at the ISS aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule following a flawless launch on January 18th. The multinational team was welcomed aboard the station by Expedition 70 commander Nicole Mann and flight engineer Josh Cassada of NASA.

“It’s great to have more colleagues on board,” said Mann. “This diverse, international crew reflects the cooperative spirit of human space exploration.”

Axiom Space CEO Michael Suffredini hailed the docking as “another milestone for Axiom and human spaceflight.” The mission’s ambitious research agenda will see the astronauts working on more than 25 science experiments during their stay.

Diverse Crew to Conduct Wide-Ranging Experiments

The Ax-3 astronauts bring a diverse set of backgrounds to their duties on the ISS:

  • Dr. Mesut Gezer – A medical doctor and Turkey’s first astronaut. He will study the effects of space travel on the human body.
  • Hakon Mjoness – A Swedish materials scientist who co-founded a startup making sustainable batteries. He will test battery materials in microgravity.
  • Emre Kuvvetli – A Turkish entrepreneur and pilot who founded a drone company. He will film Earth observations to study climate change.
  • Luca Parmitano – An Italian astronaut and former ISS commander. He will lead experiments on brain function, biofilm growth, and bladder cancer therapies.

“Each crew member brings specialized expertise that will allow us to maximize on-orbit research,” Parmitano said before launch. The table below summarizes some of their investigation areas:

Axiom-3 Astronaut Nationality Background Research Areas
Dr. Mesut Gezer Turkish Medical Doctor Space medicine, cardiology, immunology
Hakon Mjoness Swedish Materials Scientist Battery materials, crystal growth
Emre Kuvvetli Turkish Entrepreneur & Pilot Earth observations, remote sensing
Luca Parmitano Italian Test Pilot & Astronaut Neuroscience, cancer therapies, microbiology

Mission Funded Entirely By Private Means

As a commercial space station flight, Axiom-3 receives no funding from space agencies. Instead, it is bankrolled by private interests like Hakon Mjoness’ battery company, which paid $40 million for his seat as a means to test their products in orbit.

The mission is estimated to cost upwards of $100 million in total. Axiom Space charges paying customers $50-60 million per seat while also soliciting sponsorships from corporations and research institutions.

“We are truly living the beginning of a second space age, harnessing the power of private enterprise,” said Axiom co-founder Suffredini, a former NASA program manager.

What Comes Next After Axiom-3

With a smooth start to their mission, the Axiom-3 astronauts have a busy schedule ahead as they work through their research agendas. They will also welcome a separate SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule delivering new science experiments and supplies.

The astronauts’ return to Earth is targeted for February 1st. Their Crew Dragon will detach from the station and descend, splashing down off the coast of Florida where recovery ships will be standing by.

This is the third Axiom-led trip to the ISS, but the company has far loftier goals. Axiom aims to launch the first modules of a commercial successor station in 2028 as an eventual replacement for the ISS once it is retired later this decade.

“Missions like Axiom-3 are stepping stones to that vision,” said Suffredini. “We are proving private access to space while also priming a future market in low Earth orbit.”

So while Axiom-3 pushes forward on science today, it also marks progress toward sustainable human presence in space for decades to come.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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