Axiom Space has announced a new finalized deal with Musk’s private company SpaceX for another three private crew flights to the International Space Station, underscoring the budding private space flight market. The deal will cover another three launches with SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, joining the existing private crew flight called Ax-1 that’ll happen in or beyond January 2022.
Axiom has already planned Ax-1, its first private mission to the International Space Station. NASA has approved the planned mission, which is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft no sooner than next January. This new deal adds three more future private crew flights to Axiom’s roster, each also involving SpaceX’s Dragon.
The three private flights covered under this deal will be the Ax-2, Ax-3, and Ax-4 missions. According to Axiom, these will be precursor missions set to pave the way for its habitable space modules. The launch and integration of these modules are presently scheduled to start in 2021, with the Axiom Station being ready for detachment and operation by 2028.
As recently announced astronaut Peggy Whitson will join GT racer John Shoffner as commander for the Ax-2 mission, which we now know will involve the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. In a statement, Axiom Space President and CEO Michael Suffredini said:
Axiom was founded on a vision of lasting commercial development of space. We are on track to enable that future by managing the first-ever private missions to the ISS as a precursor to our development of the world’s first commercial space station. SpaceX has blazed the trail with reliable, commercial human launch capability and we are thrilled to partner with them on a truly historic moment.