The International Space Station (ISS) has received its first fully private space crew from Axiom Space. The all-civilian mission, known as Ax-1, flew using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket that was launched on Friday and took around 21 hours to reach the ISS.
Ax-1 crew members Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe are expected to spend eight days on the space station conducting 25 research experiments. On their way back, they will also be carrying scientific samples and hardware for NASA.
Docking confirmed! pic.twitter.com/YPyF3aRwO7
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 9, 2022
Some of the research that will be conducted include those that touch on brain health, cardiac stem cells, cancer and aging, as well as a technology demonstration to produce optics using the surface tension of fluids in microgravity.
This is just the first of several private missions Axiom plans to launch in the near future. The company will also build a commercial module on the space station, along with a film studio and sports arena by Space Entertainment Enterprise — there’s already a Tom Cruise film in the works to be shot in space. Both the modules are expected to detach from the ISS before it is retired and decommissioned.