Thursday, December 01, 2022

Welcome to space for private astronauts

The first all-private team of astronauts launched to the International Space Station were welcomed to the orbiting research platform on Saturday, marking the start of a week-long science mission as a milestone in commercial spaceflight. was started for.

His arrival comes nearly 21 hours after a four-member team representing Houston-based startup company Axiom Space Inc. took a ride on a SpaceX-launched Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Friday.

The Crew Dragon capsule was lifted into orbit by rocket with the ISS on Saturday as the two space vehicles were flying about 420 km above the mid-Atlantic Ocean, a live webcast from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s coupling showed.

The final approach was delayed by about 45 minutes due to a technical glitch with the video feed used to monitor the capsule’s rendezvous with the ISS, but it otherwise proceeded smoothly.

The multinational Axiom team, planning to spend eight days in orbit, was led by Spanish-born retired NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegria, 63, who was the company’s vice president of business development.

The crew of the Ax-1 consisted of investor-philanthropist and former Israeli fighter pilot, 64, and Canadian businessman and philanthropist Mark Pethe, 52, both serving as mission specialists.

With the docking achieved, it took about two hours to pressurize for the sealed passage between the space station and the crew capsule and check for leaks before the hatch was opened to allow the new team aboard the ISS.

The Ax-1 team was greeted by all seven regular, government-paid crew members already aboard the space station: three American cosmonauts, a German cosmonaut from the European Space Agency, and three Russian cosmonauts. .

The mission, Axiom, a collaboration between Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX and NASA, is touted by all three as a major step in expanding space-based commercial activities, which are collectively known by insiders as the low-Earth orbit economy. Referred to as the, or “LEO economy” for short.

NASA officials say the trend will help the US space agency focus its resources more on big-science exploration, including its Artemis program to send humans to the Moon and eventually back to Mars. is for.

While the space station has hosted civilian visitors from time to time, the X-1 mission is the first all-commercial team of astronauts sent to the ISS for its intended purpose as an orbiting research laboratory.

Axiom executives say their astronaut venture and plans to build a private space station in Earth orbit are astro-seekers offered to wealthy thrill-seekers by billionaire entrepreneurs Jeff Bezos and companies like Richard-owned Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. Tourism is far beyond services. Branson.

Australian Associated Press

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