Commercial spaceflight company Axiom Space was allowed to launch the world’s first entirely private mission to the International Space Station in April, but only after a critical test of NASA’s new Artemis 1 moon rocket.
The Ax mission 1 To the International Space Station, it passed a flight readiness review Friday (March 25), allowing the launch to proceed no later than April 3 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The mission will take off from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where SpaceX Missions launched by NASA astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
On board will be a former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez Allegria As captain, he paid passengers Larry Connor (pilot), Mark Bathy and Eitan Stipe (both mission specialists). Each of the passengers paid $55 million for the opportunity.
But NASA Artemis 1 The lunar rocket, parked at the nearby launch pad 39B, will need to complete a so-called “wet rehearsal,” a biofuel test, before Axiom Space can proceed with its Ax-1 mission. NASA said the refueling test is scheduled to run from April 1 to April 3.
“Artemis 1 has the range,” Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Directorate, said during a conference call Friday. Regarding the Artemis 1 test, Lueders added, “Our plan is to do this as soon as possible.”
The wet dress rehearsal will see Artemis 1 simulate a countdown on the board to ensure the mission debuts space launch system The rocket is ready for its first flight, an unmanned flight around the moon.
Artemis 1 and Axiom 1 stand close together at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Artemis 1 may be able to complete a wet clothes rehearsal on the morning of April 3, at Launch Complex 39B.
Assuming the rehearsal goes as planned, the Axiom 1 may blast off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A that afternoon, at 1:13 p.m. EDT (1713 GMT). NASA has confirmed that the schedule will be tight and subject to change.
Lueders admitted that having such a traffic jam is a “good problem,” as it shows a healthy set of tasks. However, the situation may lead to backups, especially if weather or technical issues occur.
During the same press conference, NASA said that the Ax-1 has until April 7 to launch and not affect the mission of NASA’s space station, Crew-4, aboard another Space Dragon. Crew-4 is scheduled to launch on April 19.
There is also a need to account for the number of different stays in space for these vehicles and their returns. Landing is often difficult at Kennedy, which is against the Atlantic and subject to weather, so NASA officials emphasized that everyone needs to be flexible with launch and landing dates in the coming weeks.
But assuming all goes as planned, Ax-1 will dock with the space station on April 5 for an eight-day expedition that will be dedicated to science On behalf of several institutions that have links with astronauts. Collectively, the crew plans to spend nearly a tenth of their time (100 hours) on scientific, medical and technical investigations.
However, one benefit of many missions is that objects in space can return to Earth much earlier. Dana Weigel, deputy program manager for NASA’s International Space Station, noted that NASA has partnered with the Ax-1 crew to bring some science and other stuff to Earth.
“We are partnering with Axiom to bring back two of our freezers that contain important frozen science samples,” Weigel said. “This is always a precious commodity to us, [and] We tend to get a buildup in orbit. They are also going to help us by returning us a really big air tank.”
The readiness review itself went well, with both the crew and instrumentation being described as ready for the opportunity.
“Human spaceflight is incredibly modest and challenging, and we should always listen to our hardware and not focus on the schedule,” said William Gerstenmaier, SpaceX Vice President of Construction and Flight Reliability who previously held a senior position at NASA in human spaceflight.
“We need to listen to the data, learn lessons from the real world, and make sure we’re prepared to fly safely,” Gerstenmaier added. “I think today’s review showed that this team is ready to do that and we are ready for this exciting period.”
A step towards private space stations
Ax-1 will be a test ground for Axiom, which aims to operate its commercial space station. The Houston-based company wants to launch a special module to the International Space Station in 2024 to begin building on that goal.
Axiom hopes to build its airline’s flying experience quickly. NASA already has Ax 2 lit greenwhich is currently scheduled to launch from Kennedy by 2023. Former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is set to Command Suggested flight. The Ax-2, Ax-3 and Ax-4 are contracted to fly with SpaceX.
The company said the Ax-2 would be a short flight like the Ax-1, but that future missions could last up to 30 days at a time once the Axiom Space module is on the station.
“For us, it is [Ax-1] Michael Suffredini, Axiom President and CEO and former International Space Station Program Director for NASA from 2005 to 2015 said:
“The first module will go into orbit in the latter part of 2024, so this really sets the stage for a new era where there are more and more opportunities for people and nations around the world to live and work in a microgravity environment,” he added.