SpaceX is about to set a new milestone for the commercial spaceflight industry by transporting astronauts from a private company to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch, which will take place during the second half of 2021, was made possible through SpaceX's latest deal with private space company Axiom.
Axiom is a Texas-based private space firm that was co-founded by a former ISS program manager for NASA. The company is looking to manufacture the world's first commercial space station.
Axiom's Private Astronauts
As part of its goal in achieving commercial spaceflight, Axiom recently partnered with SpaceX for a fully private mission to the ISS. According to a press release by Axiom, the mission is scheduled to take place next year and will feature three private astronauts and a commander trained by the company.
The identities of the upcoming expedition's crew members have not yet been revealed, but according to Axiom, the mission commander will undergo training similar to that of NASA astronauts. The commander, along with the three other astronauts, will spend a total of eight days aboard the ISS.
Details Of Commercial Mission To ISS
According to Axiom, its upcoming mission to the ISS will not focus on conducting scientific experiments. Instead, it will involve carrying out activities organized by the company.
Axiom has not yet released details regarding the cost of its partnership with SpaceX or the type of facilities the latter will provide as part of the deal. But, for the upcoming crewed mission, SpaceX will most likely turn to its Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft to transport the astronauts.
Establishing Commercial Spaceflights
As noted by SpaceX, its new partnership with Axiom is the latest step in establishing the commercial spaceflight industry. Although the company has various spaceflight contracts with NASA, the upcoming mission with Axiom will be an entirely private expedition to space.
"Since 2012, SpaceX has been delivering cargo to the International Space Station in partnership with NASA and later this year, we will fly NASA astronauts for the first time," Gwynne Shotwell, the COO and president of SpaceX said in a press release. "Now, thanks to Axiom and their support from NASA, privately crewed missions will have unprecedented access to the space station, furthering the commercialization of space and helping usher in a new era of human exploration."