NASA Approves AX-3 Mission To ISS

Written By: Zac Aubert

Published: Tue, Mar 14, 2023 8:39 PM

Latest Update: Tue, Mar 14, 2023 8:41 PM

NASA and Axiom Space have announced plans for the third private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) is set to launch in November 2023 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and will spend 14 days docked to the ISS. The launch date is subject to change based on spacecraft traffic to the space station and in-orbit activity planning.

Ax-3 crew members will be trained by NASA, international partners, and SpaceX, which has been contracted by Axiom Space as the launch provider for transportation to and from the ISS. The crew will include a previously flown NASA astronaut as the spacecraft commander, and will conduct in-orbit activities in coordination with the space station crew members and flight controllers on the ground.

Axiom Space will submit four proposed crew members and two backup crew for the Ax-3 mission to the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel for review. NASA is requiring all private astronaut mission providers to select a previously flown NASA astronaut as the spacecraft commander. Following review and approval from NASA and its international partners, the prime crew members for the mission will be named.

Axiom Space CEO and President, Michael Suffredini, says that the selection of Axiom Space to lead the next private astronaut mission to the ISS will "expand access to nations, academia, commercial entities, and emerging industries to research, test, and demonstrate new technologies in microgravity."

Axiom Space is 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.

NASA's goal is a low-Earth orbit marketplace where the private sector leads the way, providing services the government needs at a lower cost. This will enable the agency to focus on its Artemis missions to the Moon and on to Mars while continuing to use low-Earth orbit as a training and proving ground for those deep space missions.

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