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All-private Axiom mission to ISS could launch as early as April 3

Written by  Sunday, 27 March 2022 01:39
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Washington DC (UPI) Mar 25, 2021
Axiom Space, a private space company, expects to send the first all-private crew to the International Space Station as early as April 3 pending weather conditions and other scheduling concerns, NASA officials said Friday. The Ax-1 mission passed its flight readiness review, representatives from NASA, Axiom Space and SpaceX - which is providing a Falcon 9 rocket to launch the mission --

Axiom Space, a private space company, expects to send the first all-private crew to the International Space Station as early as April 3 pending weather conditions and other scheduling concerns, NASA officials said Friday.

The Ax-1 mission passed its flight readiness review, representatives from NASA, Axiom Space and SpaceX -- which is providing a Falcon 9 rocket to launch the mission --said during a news conference Friday.

"As a company it would be an understatement to say that we're excited," said Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space.

The earliest Ax-1 could lift off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida is the afternoon of April 3. This is because NASA's Artemis 1 moon rocket is sitting at Launch Complex 39B, near pad 39A, which will be used by Ax-1.

Artemis 1 is expected to undergo a fully fueled test -- known as a "wet dress rehearsal" -- April 1-3. This testing must be completed before the Ax-1 mission can launch.

Once it does, it'll dock with the ISS where the four crew members will spend eight to 10 days conducting experiments. Weather will also factor into when the Falcon 9 rocket can lift off and return.

Further complicating scheduling is the planned launch of NASA's next space station mission, Crew-4, on April 19. Officials will need time to remove the Ax-1 return vehicle before Crew-4's rocket can lift off.

If Ax-1 departs and returns on its expected schedule, there should be plenty of time to keep Crew-4 on schedule. NASA officials said the Axiom mission can miss its window a number of times before the Crew-4 mission has to be moved back.

Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator of NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate, said Friday that the stacked schedule "is a good problem to have."

The various involved parties have "a lot of communication right now, and we're going to have to keep talking," she said, explaining that all the scheduling is subject to change.

The Ax-1 mission includes former astronaut Michael López-Alegría as mission commander, businessman Larry Connor as pilot, and Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy as mission specialists. The latter three paid $55 million each to join the mission, but instead of visiting the ISS purely as tourists, they'll conduct 25 experiments while in low-earth orbit.

Space X's Crew-4 Dragon capsule named 'Freedom'
Washington DC (UPI) Mar 24, 2021 -Space X's fourth Dragon capsule to carry astronauts to space has been named "Freedom," bringing the name of the first capsule to fly an American into space to a new generation.

The fourth Dragon mission to carry astronauts is set to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station on April 19.

The mission was originally slated to launch on April 15, but was postponed to allow more spacing between missions after Houston-based company Axiom Space AX-1 mission was delayed, according to NASA.

The crew, including, NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, along with European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are scheduled for a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, where they will conduct science experiments in microgravity.

Lindgren, who will command the Crew-4 mission, announced the name on Twitter Wednesday.

"Crew-4 will fly to the International Space Station in a new Dragon capsule named 'Freedom," Lindgren tweeted. "The name celebrates a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit."

Alan Shepard (1923-1998) was the first American to fly to space on May 5, 1961 aboard NASA's Mercury-Redstone 3, also known as Freedom 7.

Shepard chose the name "Freedom" based on the Cold War space race between the United States and the then-Soviet Union, and told reporters that he also added "7" as a symbol of camaraderie with his six other Mercury astronauts, who later also flew to space.

The Freedom 7 is currently in the care of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum that is set to display the capsule in its new "Destination Moon" gallery when it opens later this year.

The other three Dragon capsules, also named by their crews, include the Endeavour, Resilience and Endurance.

Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken named the first Dragon to launch crew to the ISS Endeavour at least in part after their shared first ride to space.

"We both had our first flights on shuttle Endeavor, and it just meant so much to us to carry on that name," Hurley said about three hours after he and Behnken reached orbit, ending a nine-year absence of human spaceflight from U.S. soil in May 2020.

Hurley added that the name Endeavour was also chosen after the "endeavor" NASA and SpaceX has been on since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

The Apollo 15 command module that orbited the moon during the fourth lunar landing mission in 1971 was similarly named "Endeavor."

The second crew to launch to the ISS named the capsule "Resilience," in tribute to NASA and SpaceX teams work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The third crew, which the fourth crew will replace, named the capsule "Endurance."

The name is "a tribute to the tenacity of the human spirit as we push humans and machines farther than we ever have...to extended stays for low Earth orbit...and knowing we will continue our exploration to go even farther," said crew commander Raja Chari.


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ROCKET SCIENCE
Space X's Crew-4 Dragon capsule named 'Freedom'
Washington DC (UPI) Mar 24, 2021
Space X's fourth Dragon capsule to carry astronauts to space has been named "Freedom," bringing the name of the first capsule to fly an American into space to a new generation. The fourth Dragon mission to carry astronauts is set to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station on April 19. The mission was originally slated to launch on April 15, but was postponed to allow more spacing between missions after Houston-based company Axiom Space AX-1 m ... read more


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