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Axiom Space Astronauts Approved by NASA for Inaugural Private ISS Mission; VP of BD Michael López-Alegría Quoted

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Crew members poised to take flight in Axiom Space’s inaugural private astronaut mission to the International Space Station have been approved by NASA and its international affiliates.

Axiom Vice President of Business Development Michael López-Alegría will be mission commander of Axiom Mission 1 or Ax-1, while Larry Connor will pilot the craft and Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe will act as mission specialists, the space infrastructure developer announced on Wednesday.

López-Alegría, who is a former NASA astronaut, reports he is proud of the training the team has gone through to prepare for traveling to and performing research at the International Space Station.

He added that he is “glad to see them meet the standards required of all astronauts flying to station since Expedition 1. Ax-1 is focused on a huge amount of science and outreach activities, and we look forward now to finalizing that flight program.”

The four Axiom Space astronauts will be spending eight days aboard the ISS conducting a mix of science, education and commercial duties.

Axiom has said the crew will also be participating in an ISS U.S. National Laboratory-sponsored study regarding microgravity. Other activities are still under review and will be approved leading up to launch.

The crew is expected to take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 30 on a tested SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, flying the route to and from the space station in Crew Dragon Endeavour.

Axiom Space has thus far been a key player in NASA’s goal to establish a low-Earth orbit economy. There are approved plans already underway for a second Axiom-led private astronaut mission and in January 2020 Axiom was chosen by NASA to conceive and realize commercial modules to attach to the ISS.

NASA’s ultimate goal is to create a sustainable commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit that can be used as a training ground for deep space missions as well as facilitate trade and government transactions with a variety of customers.

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