NASA to Make Money on the ISS, Private Astronauts Going Up in 2022

ISS in 2018 1 photo
Photo: NASA/Roscosmos
Up until now, the International Space Station (ISS) has been entirely a government affair. Be it American, Russian, or European, government-backed agencies have been in charge of operating the orbiting station and essentially just spending money, not making it. Not anymore.
Come 2022, the first crew of private astronauts will go up there in an unprecedented collaboration between NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom. It is also the first time NASA will make some money from allowing such an event to take place.

This week, NASA and Axiom announced they’ve signed “an order for the first private astronaut mission” to the ISS. Called Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), the mission will see a SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship carrying to space the first-ever crew of private astronauts from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The crew comprises Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe. All four will be reviewed and trained by NASA and will have to go through all the required checks before launch.

Once cleared and trained, the crew will be taken to the ISS, where they will spend eight days. For the duration, Axiom will pay NASA an undisclosed amount for “crew supplies, cargo delivery to space, storage, and other in-orbit resources for daily use.”

In its turn, NASA will pay Axiom an equally undisclosed amount for “the capability to return scientific samples that must be kept cold in transit back to Earth.”

Although the American space agency announced a while back it is opening up ISS for commercial activities, this is the first solid contract for such a mission. Axiom is the company that is planning to send Tom Cruise to the station for what will become the first movie scenes actually shot on the ISS. It is also an older NASA partner, having been awarded in 2020 a contract for one habitable commercial module that will be attached to the station in 2024.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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