ready for takeoff
Houston's Axiom Space announced this month that it has signed its fourth mission order with NASA to send a private astronaut mission to the International Space Station.
The mission is targeted to launch no earlier than August 2024 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) is targeted to launch no earlier than January of the same year.
Ax-1 successfully launched in April 2022, and Ax-2 successfully launched about a year later, in May 2023. Ax-2 was the first private mission commanded by a woman and included the first Saudi astronauts to live and work on the ISS, and the first Saudi female astronaut to go to 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 ISS operations in low-Earth orbit," says Michael Suffredini, CEO and president of Axiom Space, in a press release. "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.”
Axiom Mission 4 (Ax-4) is expected to spend up to 14 days docked to the ISS.
The crew will train for their flight with NASA, international partners, and SpaceX. SpaceX has also been contracted as launch provider for the missions.
Last month, Axiom also received $5 million to continue its work developing new spacesuits that will be used in NASA's upcoming Artemis missions, with a potential value of $142 million investment over four years. The company has been working on the spacesuits with North Carolina-based Collins Aerospace since last summer.
Initial designs of the Axiom Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or AxEMU, were revealed in March at Space Center Houston’s Moon 2 Mars Festival.
Earlier this summer, NASA also opened its Digital Engineering Design Center in Johnson Space Center. Enrolled engineers and students will work on NASA projects related to in-situ resource utilization, or ISRU, which is a type of engineering that utilizes materials native to space
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