NASA Gives SpaceX, Axiom Green Light for First Private Mission To International Space Station

by Taylor Cunningham

SpaceX and Axiom Space officially have NASA’s blessing to go ahead with plans to launch the first-ever all-private mission to the International Space Station. After passing a flight readiness review on Friday, three lucky businessmen will now head to the cosmos sometime this April.

At a Glance

  • NASA gave the Axiom mission the green light to head to the Internation Space Station with the help of SpaceX.
  • Three private citizens will ride on the Crew Dragon Endeavour and make history as the first-ever all-private mission.
  • The Axiom-1 plans to take off on April 3rd. But NASA will likely push back the date.
  • The Artemis-1 rocket is also due to have a practice launch that day, and that mission has priority.

SpaceX Trip to the International Space Station

Axiom Space is paying SpaceX to launch its Axiom Mission-1 with customers Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy aboard. Axiom’s VP Michael López-Alegría, who was once a NASA astronaut, will serve as the mission commander. And the group will head out on the Crew Dragon Endeavour.

The historic mission officially passed its flight readiness review on March 25th. And managers with Axiom, NASA, and SpaceX all agreed that teams should move ahead with plans to launch next month.

As of today, the launch date is set for April 3rd at 1:13 p.m. And the capsule will take off from Kennedy Space Center launchpad 39A atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. However, the date will probably change in the near future.

That same day, NASA is also planning to practice the first full countdown of its Artemis project. And the over $20 billion mission will take precedent over the Axiom launch.

“I think from a planning perspective it made a lot of sense to us to just get the wet dress [rehearsal] mission done and [the Artemis team] being able to start their data and then letting us have the time of successive launch attempts for the Axiom-1 mission,” said Kathy Lueders, the head of NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate.

The Axiom Passengers will Enjoy Fine Dining on the ISS

When the SpaceX capsule takes off, it will spend about a day traveling through space before reaching the International Space Station. And once docked, the private astronauts will enjoy an eight-day stay on the orbiting craft.

To pass the time, the men will help scientists conduct research tests and also share gourmet meals with each other and the ISS crew.

“Once they get settled in, they’ll start doing their core mission activities, which include a combination of human research, technology, demonstrations, outreach, and some commercial activities,” NASA program manager Dana Wiegel said.

Commander López-Alegría’s friend Chef Jose’Andrés even developed some space-ready meals for the trip, including his world-famous paella.