SpaceX, Axiom to send three tourists to ISS in 2021

James Marshall
April 30, 2020

When the ISS reaches its retirement date, the Axiom complex will detach and operate as a free-flying commercial space station.

This is the second contract SpaceX grabbed as it reached an agreement with Space Adventures on February 18 to launch private citizens on Crew Dragon spacecraft into an Earth orbit higher than ISS between late-2021 to mid-2022.

SpaceX will attempt to land the rocket booster back at Cape Canaveral, meaning residents in the area could hear a sonic boom. "This will be just the first of many missions to ISS to be completely crewed and managed by Axiom Space - a first for a commercial entity". In 2014, SpaceX and Boeing snagged a coveted launch contract collectively worth $6.8 billion to each build a spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to the space station and back.

B1059 returned to Port Canaveral on December 7th, 2019 and will launch CRS-20 - its second Dragon mission - nearly exactly three months later. The flight's crew will live onboard the existing station for at least eight days.

When Dragon does return home, it will mark the end of SpaceX's original Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. While this is not an issue for astronauts on board, as food from Earth is supplied regularly, for long-duration spaceflight-like those to the moon and Mars, which NASA is now planning-the issue of nutrition could become a problem.

Among the payloads on the Dragon is Bartolomeo, an external experiment platform developed by Airbus that will be installed on the station's Columbus module. The Earth views are supposed to be spectacular. Potential applications include Earth observation, robotics, material science and astrophysics. Studying these "tissue chips" may provide a better understanding on how they may cause disease on Earth.

Generation of Cardiomyocytes From Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-derived Cardiac Progenitors Expanded in Microgravity (MVP Cell-03) examines whether microgravity increases the production of heart cells from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs).

"Since 2012, SpaceX has been delivering cargo to the International Space Station in partnership with NASA and later this year, we will fly NASA astronauts for the first time", said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations providing opportunities for US government agencies, private industry, and academic and research institutions to conduct microgravity research that leads to new technologies, medical treatments and products that improve life on Earth.

Axiom Space is inviting individuals seeking out a trip of a lifetime.

A lot of the packaged food loses its nutritional value over time in Space, so it has been one of NASA's prime focuses to find products that can be grown on the ISS so as to provide astronauts with proper nutrition, as well as keeping their morale high.

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