NASA, Partners Approve Axiom Mission 1 Crew

NASA and its international partners have approved the Axiom Mission 1 crew for the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station through the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel. Axiom Mission 1 astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe also have cleared medical evaluations for the mission. Both are important steps with international partners as NASA and Axiom continue to work this mission. Launch is now targeted for Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. From left to right: pilot Larry Connor, mission commander Michael López-Alegría, mission specialist Mark Pathy, and mission specialist Eytan Stibbe.

NASA and its partners cleared a multinational crew from American space company Axiom for the first-ever private astronaut mission to the International Space Station next year, the agency announced Monday, capping a year of advancements in civilian space travel.

The four-person crew was approved by NASA and the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel, a coalition of five international space agencies that decides who flies to the ISS.

The mission’s members passed their medical evaluations and are expected to launch on February 28, NASA said.

Former NASA astronaut and Axiom Vice President of Business Development Michael López-Alegría will serve as mission commander.

He is joined by Larry Connor, an American real estate entrepreneur; Mark Pathy, a Canadian businessman; and Eytan Stibbe, an investor and former Israeli Air Force pilot.

The crew will conduct research during the 10-day mission, including work with stem cells to study aging in space.

$55 million. That’s how much Connor, Pathy and Stibbe each paid to be part of the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), according to the Washington Post.

On Monday, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa returned to Earth after becoming the first space tourist to visit the ISS in over a decade. It comes after a year of advancements in the much-publicized “space race” between rival billionaires Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson. And while the competition has been hailed by many, it’s not without its critics, who point to the enormous environmental toll and the Earth-bound problems it leaves behind. 


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