SpaceX has confirmed the first four people who will fly aboard the Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS. The mission is known as AX-1 and will be the first mission to ever fly a crew made up of entirely private citizens to the ISS. The mission will take place no earlier than January 2022.
The plan is to send the private astronauts to the ISS for eight days. SpaceX says this is a big step for Crew Dragon designed specifically for taking passengers from Earth to the ISS. Primarily, the spacecraft will be used to send NASA astronauts in orbit, but SpaceX is using it for putting private citizens into orbit as well.
Prior to Crew Dragon, to get American astronauts into space required the purchase of a seat aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. So far Crew Dragon has carried six people in the space over to missions conducted last May and last November. Another spacecraft is in the works from Boeing known as the Starliner, but it has yet to conduct a mission.
All four of the private astronauts are from Axiom Space. The private crew includes mission commander Michael López-Alegría, who is a former NASA astronaut. Other crewmembers include pilot Larry Connor, Canadian Mark Pathy, and Etyan Stibbe who is Israel’s second astronaut.
SpaceX will be busy during 2021 with the Crew-2 mission set to take place early this year. That will be the second non-test crew flight for the spacecraft taking four astronauts to the ISS. In late 2021, Crew-3 will launch taking another four astronauts to the space station. As with any lodge, there’s no guarantee that SpaceX will be able to stick to these timelines with missions potentially moved up or postponed.