NASA Picks Axiom Space for AX-4 Mission to the ISS
Axiom Space has sent two private crews to the ISS, with a third mission in progress. This time Axiom Space and NASA have announced a new order for a fourth private mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
This mission will launch no earlier than August 2024 from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The private missions to the ISS are part of NASA’s efforts to transition low Earth orbit into a commercial platform after the ISS’s retirement in 2030.
Axiom Space is developing its own space station, ‘Axiom Station,’ with plans to launch the first module in 2025. The company aims to operate independently and eliminate NASA’s need for mission approval.
While the private missions have shown progress, lessons have been learned from the first mission, ‘Ax-1′, where crew members faced challenges and interfered with ISS astronauts’ regular work.
As a result, NASA updated its rules and required missions to be led by a former NASA astronaut. From that, Axiom Space Director of human spaceflight, Peggy Whitson, will command the Ax-2 crew.
The selection of Axiom Space for another mission marks an important step in expanding commercial space activities and paving the way for NASA’s transition to commercial platforms in low Earth orbit.
The Ax-3 crew is yet to be announced, and Axiom Space will submit proposals for the Ax-4 crew for approval from NASA. Overall, the collaboration between Axiom Space and NASA signifies progress in developing commercial space ventures and exploration beyond the ISS.