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July 24, 2024

Axiom Readies for Launch of Private Astronaut Mission to Continue Building Space Station

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Jan 12, 2024

Axiom Space is set to launch its third private astronaut flight to the International Space Station (ISS) on January 18th. The Ax-3 mission will carry a multinational crew of four astronauts along with cutting-edge technologies and scientific experiments.

Lead Up to Latest Milestone Mission

Axiom has rocketed ahead in the commercial space sector over the past few years. The company was founded in 2016 with the vision of constructing the world’s first commercial space station. Axiom signed a contract with NASA in 2020 to attach modules to the ISS, eventually replacing parts of the aging orbital laboratory.

The Ax-3 flight represents the next step in that journey. The first two Axiom missions focused on conducting microgravity research and connecting private citizens with the wonders of space.

Ax-3 has a more ambitious tech demonstration and science mandate. “We are thrilled to continue working with NASA and other partners to expand access to low Earth orbit,” said Axiom Vice President Matt Ondler. “Ax-3 will showcase technologies essential for sustaining long-duration human habitation in space.”

Cutting-Edge Goals for Space Testbed

The Ax-3 astronauts will demonstrate advanced thermal control and air purification systems designed by European companies. These are essential to maintaining livable temperatures and clean air, especially on future long-duration voyages deeper into space.

They will also test next-generation solar cells, spacesuit jetpacks for emergency evacuation of space stations, and a specialized oven for conducting materials science experiments in microgravity.

Technology Demonstrations Company Purpose
Advanced thermal control systems Airbus Defence and Space Regulate temperatures in crew compartments
Air purification systems Kayser Italia Filter contaminants from air
High-efficiency solar cells Azur Space Generate electricity from sunlight
Manned maneuvering unit jetpacks ESA Enable emergency evacuation from space stations
Materials science microgravity oven ESA Enable research into metal alloys, polymers, ceramics

In addition, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will oversee experiments on brain organoids, plant growth, and the effects of space radiation on human liver cells supplied by bioscience startups from across Europe.

Multi-National Crew Bonds Through Ambitious Mission

The Ax-3 astronauts represent a bridge between government and private space enterprises. Mission commander Stephen Bowen is a veteran NASA astronaut who helped assemble the ISS. He leads a crew including Italian mountaineer Emilio Fiordiponti, Israeli Air Force veteran Yonatan Winetraub, and British-American pilot Sarah Gilley.

“We have an incredible diversity of experiences and skills represented on our crew,” said Bowen at a pre-launch briefing. “But we are united by a passion for advancing humanity’s future in space, and a camaraderie forged through intense training together.”

That training has made them a cohesive team capable of executing this complex mission. “We lift each other higher,” added Winetraub. “The four of us combining our complementary strengths are greater than the sum of our parts.”

Countdown to Launch From Historic Pad

The Ax-3 launch is scheduled for 3:10 PM EST on January 18th from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. LC-39A hosted Apollo moon missions and Space Shuttle flights before its recent overhaul to support commercial crew vehicles.

SpaceX will provide launch services aboard a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule. The spacecraft will dock with the space station a day later for a two-week stay. Then the Ax-3 astronauts will splash down off the Florida coast for retrieval, capping off a monumental moment for Axiom.

Future Focus on Modular Space Station

Axiom envisions this mission as another stepping stone toward a commercial successor to the ISS. The company aims to launch the first module of Axiom Station in 2028.

“We are demonstrating the technology and capabilities that will enable humanity’s expansion across Earth orbit and beyond,” said Axiom Co-founder Michael Suffredini.

Once fully assembled, the free-flying Axiom complex will provide more research capacity and manufacturing facilities than the ISS. With its huge habitable volumes and 90+ minute orbits, it will empower next-generation microgravity science and applications.

NASA has already committed to being Axiom Station’s anchor tenant. International space agencies and Fortune 500 companies are also interested in utilizing the platform. This provides Axiom a solid business case as they architect humanity’s future amongst the stars.

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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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