NASA and private space infrastructure developer, Axiom Space, recently announced the approval for Axiom-4, which will be the fourth private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and is currently scheduled to launch no sooner than August 2024 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and slated to be docked to the ISS for 14 days.
"Our Axiom Space team is looking forward to a fourth mission to the International Space Station,” said Michael Suffredini, who is the CEO and president of Axiom Space. “Each mission allows us to build on the foundation we have set for the world's first commercial space station, Axiom Station, preparing our teams and orbital platform to succeed the International Space Station operations in low Earth orbit.”
The approval for Axiom-4 comes after NASA approved the Axiom-3 mission in March of this year with a scheduled launch date of no sooner than January 2024, and builds upon the previous successes of Axiom-1 and Axiom-2, which stayed docked to the ISS for 16 days and 8 days, respectively. While the crew for Axiom-3 and Axiom-4 haven’t been announced yet, the crews of Axiom-1 and Axiom-2 featured crews of diverse backgrounds, with astronauts representing the United States, Spain, Israel, Canada, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, along with being comprised of former NASA astronauts, entrepreneurs, military and civilian pilots, investors, and a biomedical researcher.
Image of Axiom-2’s SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docked to the International Space Station after launching the four-person crew to the orbital laboratory on May 22, 2023. (Credit: NASA)
“These missions are instrumental in expanding commercial space activities and access to space for individuals and nations around the world, as well as developing the knowledge and experience needed to normalize living and working in microgravity,” said Suffredini.
Like the previous Axiom missions, Axiom-4 will launch to the ISS onboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, and the crew will conduct their training alongside NASA, SpaceX, and international partners to achieve maximum mission success. Along with carrying out a variety of research tasks on the ISS, the Axiom-4 crew will also be tasked with returning scientific samples to Earth.
As stated by CEO Suffredini, the goal of Axiom Space is to build Axiom Station, which is currently under construction on Earth and slated to be the world’s first commercial space station operating in low-Earth orbit. Axiom-4 will continue a successful trend of sending private astronauts to the ISS while conducting valuable science and teaching private astronauts how to live and work in space.
How will Axiom-4 continue to establish a commercial presence in outer space? Only time will tell, and this is why we science!
As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!