Space Image

NASA Selects Axiom Space For 4th Private Mission To ISS

NASA and Axiom Space, a private space exploration company, have signed an order for the fourth private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), with a targeted launch no earlier than August 2024.

  • More details coming soon...
Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Thu Aug 03 2023Written by Zac Aubert

NASA and Axiom Space, a private space exploration company, have signed an order for the fourth private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), with a targeted launch no earlier than August 2024.

This significant development marks another milestone in NASA's efforts to shift low Earth orbit activities from primarily government-sponsored endeavors to a future where NASA is one of many customers.

“I am pleased to see another milestone in our efforts to transition low Earth orbit from primarily a government-sponsored activity to one where NASA is one of many customers...NASA has been directed to develop commercial platforms to sustain a continuous United States presence in low Earth orbit and to transition beyond International Space Station operations. These private astronaut missions are helping to pave the way for that transition.” - Phil McAlister, NASA Director of Commercial Space 

The upcoming mission, called Axiom Mission 4 (Ax-4), is expected to spend up to 14 days docked to the ISS. The precise launch date will depend on overall spacecraft traffic to the orbital outpost and other planning constraints. NASA and Axiom Space mission planners will work together to coordinate in-orbit activities for the private astronauts, ensuring a seamless interaction with station crew members and ground-based flight controllers.

"Our Axiom Space team is looking forward to a fourth mission to the International Space Station...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. 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.” - Michael Suffredini, CEO and President of Axiom Space. “

Axiom Space will submit four proposed crew members for the Ax-4 mission to NASA and its international partners for review. Upon approval, the prime crew members for the mission will be confirmed. These crew members will undergo rigorous training with NASA, international partners, and SpaceX, the launch provider responsible for transportation to and from the ISS. SpaceX will also familiarize the private astronauts with the Dragon spacecraft's systems, procedures, and emergency preparedness.

Axiom Space is obtaining NASA services through both a mission-specific order and a reimbursable Space Act Agreement. 

The mission-specific order encompasses various provisions, including crew supplies, cargo delivery to space, storage, and in-orbit resources for daily use. The order also allows for up to seven contingency days aboard the space station. However, this mission is subject to NASA's pricing policy for services that exceed the ISS baseline capabilities. Additionally, the order outlines the capabilities NASA may obtain from Axiom Space, such as the return of scientific samples that require cold storage and other cargo. The agreement also provides NASA with the opportunity to utilize the private astronaut mission commander's time to complete NASA science or perform tasks for the agency.

Through Space Act Agreements, Axiom Space will reimburse NASA for enabling services, including crew member training and the use of facilities at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Furthermore, SpaceX has its reimbursable agreement with NASA Kennedy for launch services.

The selection of Axiom Space for the third and fourth private astronaut missions was made by NASA in March, following proposals received in response to the September 2022 NASA Research Announcement. The mission proposals were evaluated based on the provider's capability to execute a successful mission, NASA's ability to support the proposed mission, and the mission's contribution to NASA's overarching goal of commercializing low Earth orbit activities.

With these private astronaut missions, NASA continues to demonstrate its commitment to fostering a vibrant commercial space industry and paving the way for future endeavors beyond the ISS.

As the world looks forward to the future of space exploration, these collaborations between NASA and private companies like Axiom Space will be crucial in expanding humanity's presence in space and unlocking new frontiers of scientific research and innovation.