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Axiom Space Completes 1st Private Astronaut Mission to ISS; Bill Nelson Quoted

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Four Axiom Space astronauts have completed their science experiments and technology demonstrations at the International Space Station, marking the conclusion of the first private astronaut mission to the low Earth orbit laboratory.

NASA said Monday the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft carrying the Axiom Mission 1 crew returned to Earth via a splashdown off the Florida coast.

The mission lasted for 17 days, 15 of which were spent in orbit testing station air purifier, researching cancer cells and conducting other scientific studies. Ax-1 was aimed at demonstrating the ability of industry, specifically Axiom Space, to perform research through ISS integration.

Astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria, Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy underwent post-flight studies to determine spaceflight effects on the human body.

Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA, attributed the completion of the first private astronaut mission to ISS to the collaboration between the space agency and the private industry.

“[AX-1] is an important step in opening opportunities for space travelers and achieving NASA’s goal of enabling commercial business off the planet in low-Earth orbit,” he said.

More Axiom missions to the ISS are planned for future dates in support of the development of a commercial space station meant to function as a global academic and commercial hub.