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NASA, Axiom Space to launch second private astronaut mission to ISS in 2023

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NASA and Axiom Space announced plans Wednesday to send a second team of private astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station in the second quarter of 2023. File Photo courtesy of NASA

NASA and Axiom Space announced plans Wednesday to send another team of private astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station in the next quarter of 2023. File Photo thanks to NASA

Aug. 31 (UPI) — NASA and Axiom Space said Wednesday they intend to launch another private astronaut mission to the International Space Station in 2023.

The spaceflight, coordinated by the U.S. space agency and the private Houston-based infrastructure developer, will undoubtedly be designated as Axiom Mission 2, or Ax-2 and can launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the next quarter of 2023, NASA and Axiom said in a joint statement Wednesday.

Private Axiom astronauts will happen to be the ISS and spend 10 days aboard the area station and take part in in-orbit activities in coordination with ISS crew and flight controllers on the floor.

“With each new step of progress, we are working with commercial space companies and growing the economy in low-Earth orbit,” Phil McAlister, director of commercial space at NASA Headquarters said. “Along with expanding usage of orbit for more folks, we have been also hoping these private astronaut missions can help the learn and develop the skillset to conduct such missions, and NASA is benefitting from gaining additional capability, particularly with returning additional cargo from the area station.”

NASA and Axiom launched Axiom-1, a mission that sent a crew of four private astronauts to the ISS for 17 days in April, marking the initial all-private astronaut mission to the area station.

The crew was originally scheduled to invest 10 days on the ISS conducting research made to help better explain microgravity’s effects on our body but stayed on the area station for a supplementary week as bad weather conditions delayed their return trip.

Following delay, the crew returned to Earth on a SpaceX Dragon capsule that splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Axiom Space’s Ax-2 mission builds upon the success of Ax-1, which demonstrated our team’s capability to work collaboratively with this partners at NASA and SpaceX to plan and execute a complex human spaceflight mission,” Derek Hassmann, Axiom’s chief of Mission Integration and Operations, said.

The four-person crew included Michael Lpez-Alegra, a retired NASA astronaut and vice president of business development at Axiom; Larry Connor, a genuine estate and technology entrepreneur; Mark Pathy, a Canadian businessman; and Eytan Stibbe, an Israeli entrepreneur and former fighter jet pilot.

Axiom said it’ll submit four proposed new crew members and four backup crew for the Ax-2 mission to the ISS’s Multilateral Crew Operations Panel for review.

NASA currently takes a previously flown NASA astronaut to serve because the space craft commander for several private astronaut missions.

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