Europe prepares its first manned commercial space mission

primera misión espacial europea

Inspenet, December 13, 2023.

Manned space exploration, especially in Low Earth Orbit, is undergoing a significant transformation. A notable milestone was SpaceX’s Inspiration 4 mission, which marked the first time an all-civilian crewed spacecraft launched in September 2021, remaining in orbit for two days.

However, Axiom Space has taken commercial missions to the next level by leading the construction of modules for the first private space station. Under the leadership of Michael Suffredini, CEO and Co-Founder, with a decade of experience as Director of NASA’s Space Station Program, Axiom Space is advancing the creation of this unique space station.

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The success of Inspiration 4 has catalyzed the launch of SpaceX’s “Polaris Program”, which aims to conduct the first commercial spacewalk in 2024, thus expanding the frontiers of space exploration .

Through an agreement with NASA, Axiom Space plans to gradually add its own modules to the existing International Space Station. Subsequently, at the end of the current International Space Station’s lifespan, the Axiom complex is expected to undock and remain in orbit. NASA intends to end the ISS services in 2030-2031, removing it from orbit for disintegration in Earth’s atmosphere.

Axiom Space is not only working on building the modules for its future space station, but has also begun sending astronauts to the existing International Space Station via private flights, contracted to SpaceX.

It is important to note that Axiom Space presents itself as a company that seeks to make space more accessible, providing opportunities to countries, universities, governments and research institutions, among others. The key distinction is that each member of Axiom missions is required to participate in a substantial number of experiments in space. The crew not only visits the Space Station to collaborate with official NASA or ESA astronauts, but also carries out their own experiments necessary for the mission, even using their own body in this process.

AX-3 will be Europe’s first commercial manned space mission

Led by the experienced Michael Lopez-Alegría, born in Spain, the mission will also take the first Turkish astronaut into space, as well as a Swedish and an Italian astronaut. The crew is headed by Commander Michael Lopez-Alegría, originally from Madrid, retired from NASA with four space missions behind him and current Chief Astronaut of Axiom Space, who will lead the first space mission.

The pilot, Walter Villadei (ITA), is a colonel in the Italian Air Force, with extensive experience in the Italian space program and numerous flight hours in different combat aircraft. Villadei has completed training in Moscow, in Star City, and recently participated as a crew member on Virgin Galactic’s suborbital flight, Unity 23.

Two Mission Specialists will join the crew: Aper Gezeravci (TUR), a Turkish Air Force Pilot with more than 15 years of experience in various aircraft, and Marcus Wandt (SUE), a skilled pilot with more than 20 years of service in the Swedish Air Force, who will become the second Swede to reach the International Space Station.

Axiom Space is preparing to carry out its third completely civil mission, consolidating its experience not only with its own team of astronauts, but also in the dynamics of work and coexistence in orbit. This becomes crucial as the company prepares for the time when its own space station is in orbit and NASA astronauts go from hosts to visitors.

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