Space tourism company Axiom Space announced June 2 that it had purchased three additional SpaceX Crew Dragon flights to the International Space Station.
Axiom announced the first private mission to the ISS aboard a Crew Dragon in January. Ax-1 will carry a crew of four to the orbiting laboratory for an eight-day mission. While aboard the station, the crew will perform research and undertake “philanthropic projects” unique to each crew member.
This week’s announcement confirms that Ax-2, 3, and 4 will also be flown aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
“We are beyond excited to build upon our partnership with Axiom to help make human spaceflight more accessible for more people,” said SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell. “A new era in human spaceflight is here.”
Ax-1 is slated to lift off no earlier than January 2022. The three new missions will be flown through 2023 as what Axiom calls “precursor missions” designed to lead the way for the launch and integration of the company’s first space station module.
Slated to be launched in 2024, Axiom’s first space station module will be docked to the International Space Station’s Harmony module. Called the Axiom Hub One, the module will provide quarters for the company’s private crews as well as research and manufacturing capabilities.
Over a period of four years, additional modules will be added to the Axiom segment of the station. This construction phase will be the prelude to the completed segment being detached from the ISS to become the first privately developed free-flying space station.