Washington: Private space habitat company Axiom Space has announced a robust microgravity research portfolio for its first-ever private mission to the International Space Station (ISS) that is slated for February next year. The Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew will conduct approximately 25 experiments, in human research, life and physical sciences, technology demonstrations and Earth observation, while onboard the ISS, the company said in a statement.
Critical data from the experiments will expand the applicability of microgravity research to new sectors. The mission will pioneer a new phase of microgravity utilisation amongst non-government entities -- laying the groundwork for a full realisation of low-Earth orbit's possibilities and bringing critical findings back to Earth, it added.
"Humanity has only scratched the surface of low-Earth orbit's potential for breakthrough innovation and Axiom was founded to push that envelope -- first with private astronaut missions to ISS, followed by the launch and operation of the world's first commercial space station, and eventually the creation of a rotating city in space and scaled human presence in orbit," said Michael Suffredini, President and CEO of Axiom Space, in the statement.
"We applaud the Ax-1 crew's commitment to advancing scientific inquiry and kicking off this civilizational leap. We're confident this mission will become not just a monumental moment in space travel, but the true beginning of making space's potential for meaningful discovery available to private citizens and organisations for the first time," he added.
Ax-1 mission includes a multinational crew of four private astronauts with Axiom's Michael Lopez-Alegria as commander, and a former NASA astronaut who now works for Axiom, along with three paying customers who paid $55 million each.
The customers include Larry Connor, an American non-profit activist investor; Mark Pathy, a Canadian investor; and Eytan Stibbe, an Israeli investor and former Israeli fighter pilot. The crew will fly to the orbital lab on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that Axiom purchased in March 2020.
Connor's experiments would provide data on space travel's impact on senescent cells -- aged cells that no longer divide and grow -- and heart health; and on the effects of the spaceflight environment on spinal and brain tissue.
Pathy's experiments includes a two-way holoportation -- a mixed reality app for special lenses that receives two-way 3D projections as a hologram to communicate between users remotely. In addition, Pathy also plans to lead Earth observation activities to analyse the impact of climate change and urbanisation.
ALSO READSpaceX mission led by Indian-origin astronaut Raja Chari docks with International Space Station
Meanwhile, Stibbe will be undertaking a mission named "Rakia," after the dome (atmosphere) created by God on the second day after the firmament, which protects life on Earth, the company said.
Stibbe will facilitate scientific experiments and conduct educational and artistic activities to connect the younger generation in Israel and around the globe on the values of peace, innovation and social responsibility.
Axiom founded in 2016 by Mike Suffredini, the former ISS programme manager at NASA, has the ultimate goal of building private space stations that various customers can visit to do research.