The first all-private mission to ISS splashes down after 17 days
After delays due to bad weather back on Earth, Axiom-1 (Ax-1), history's first all-private mission to the International Space Mission (ISS) returned today. At 1:06 pm EDT, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule splashed down off the coast of Florida.
Launched on April 8, 2022 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Ax-1 spent 15 days docked with the space station. During their stay, Commander Michael López-Alegría, Pilot Larry Connor, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy, oversaw 26 science payloads developed by partner organizations, including the Mayo Clinic, Montreal Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, and the Ramon Foundation.
The visit will be far from a one-off. It is the first of a series of two visits per year, depending on availability of space and docking units. Eventually, Axiom will install its own module on the ISS, which will remain docked until the station is decommissioned. The module will then detach itself and form the core of a new private outpost.
The original plan was for Ax-1 to spend a little over a week at the ISS, but severe wind conditions in the splashdown area in the Atlantic Ocean forced a series of delays. As the weather improved, the Dragon spacecraft was allowed to undock on April 24 at 9:10 pm EDT and begin the orbital burns for reentry.
Having completed experiments on the space lab that included self-assembly technology for future space habitats, microgravity medical research, and air purification systems, the Ax-1 crew took part in educational and outreach presentations. Now returned to Earth, the private astronauts will provide biomedical and physiological data to the Translational Research Institute for Space Health to learn more about the effects of spaceflight on the human body.
"It's remarkable to think what was once a dream of visionaries is now a reality as we have officially opened a new era in human-spaceflight with Ax-1," said López-Alegría. "This mission pushed the boundaries further and beyond and opened the door to a future that allows access to Space for a much broader and more international audience. The Ax-1 mission would not have been possible without the remarkable team of professionals at Axiom Space, NASA, SpaceX, training teams, our personal friends and family, and so many others who, through sheer passion, enthusiasm, hard work, and resilience helped us to succeed and navigate this uncharted path.
"On behalf of myself and the Ax-1 Crew, we thank you all. Going to Space is an amazing adventure, but more than anything else, it offers perspective in the most literal sense. You see the world differently and come home with a new frame of reference- a new way of looking at the world. I am personally grateful to have had this opportunity once again, particularly to have shared this experience with Larry, Eytan, and Mark – Thank you! It's an incredible honor to share this journey with you all."
The video below is a replay of SpaceX coverage of the Ax-1 mission splashdown.
Source: Axiom Space