Axiom Space’s Private Flight to Space Station Delayed to End of March

Pilot Larry Connor, mission commander Michael López-Alegría, mission specialist Mark Pathy, and mission specialist Eytan Stibbe. (Credit: Axiom Space)

Axiom Space’s plan to send four private astronauts to the International Space Station has been delayed from Feb. 21 to March 31, NASA announced last week.

“Axiom Mission 1, the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, is now targeting to launch March 31 to account for additional spacecraft preparations and space station traffic,” NASA said in a blog post. “Once aboard the orbiting laboratory, the four-person Axiom Space crew will conduct science, outreach, and commercial activities for eight days before their return to Earth.”

Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who is an Axiom vice president, will command the SpaceX Crew Dragon mission known as Ax-1. The spacecraft will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Lopez-Alegria will be joined by: American Larry Connor, who will serve as pilot; Israeli mission specialist Eytan Stibbe; and Canadian mission specialist Mark Pathy. Stibbe will be the second Israeli to fly to space.

Roscosmos Approves Space Station Crews for 2022-2024

The space station is viewed from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon during its automated approach before docking. (Credit: NASA TV)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The interdepartmental commission on the selection of cosmonauts has confirmed the prime and backup crews of long-term expeditions to the International Space Station of Soyuz MS crewed spaceships in 2022-2024.

(more…)

NASA’s 2021 Achievements Included Mars Landing, First Flight, Artemis, More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2021, NASA completed its busiest year of development yet in low-Earth orbit, made history on Mars, continued to make progress on its Artemis plans for the Moon, tested new technologies for a supersonic aircraft, finalized launch preparations for the next-generation space telescope, and much more – all while safely operating during a pandemic and welcoming new leadership under the Biden-Harris Administration.

(more…)

SpaceX Notches 100th First Stage Landing, Sets New Annual Launch Record

A SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft launches on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy for the company’s 24th commercial resupply services mission for NASA. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — On December 21, 2021, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched Dragon on the 24th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-24) mission for NASA from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing our 31st and final launch of the year. Dragon separated from Falcon 9’s second stage about twelve minutes after liftoff and will autonomously dock to the space station on Wednesday, December 22.

(more…)

NASA, Partners Approve Axiom Mission 1 Crew for February Launch to Space Station

Pilot Larry Connor, mission commander Michael López-Alegría, mission specialist Mark Pathy, and mission specialist Eytan Stibbe.

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and its international partners have approved the Axiom Mission 1 crew for the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station through the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel. Axiom Mission 1 astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe also have cleared medical evaluations for the mission.

Both are important steps with international partners as NASA and Axiom continue to work this mission. Launch is now targeted for Monday, Feb. 28, 2022.

FAA Decides Bezos, Branson and Shatner Are Astronauts After All

  • Everyone who exceeds 50 miles by Dec. 31 will receive commercial astronaut wing even if they were just passengers
  • Nobody after that will even if they pilot a ship
  • Agency reverses earlier decision to award wings only to those essential to flight operations/success
  • FAA says this is what was intended all along

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) – With the advent of the commercial space tourism era, starting in 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will now recognize individuals who reach space on its website instead of issuing Commercial Space Astronaut Wings. Any individual who is on an FAA-licensed or permitted launch and reaches 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth will be listed on the site. 

(more…)

Russian Cosmonaut to Fly on SpaceX Crew Dragon

Anna Kikina (Credit: Roscosmos)

Anna Kikina will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a future SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, marking the first time a Russian cosmonaut will fly on the new American vehicle. In return, an American will fly aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.

Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin made the announcement in a Twitter post on Wednesday. It will be the first spaceflight for Kikina, who is Russia’s only active female cosmonaut.

Although Rogozin didn’t mention Crew Dragon by name, SpaceX’s vehicle is the only one currently flying. Boeing is experiencing significant delays in getting its CST-100 Starliner operational.

It is not clear when Kikina will fly on Crew Dragon. Neither Roscosmos nor NASA has made an official announcement of her assignment to a mission.

NASA Orders 3 Additional Crew Dragon Flights From SpaceX

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured after undocking from the forward port on the Harmony module beginning its short trip to the space-facing port. (Credit: NASA TV)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA intends to issue a sole source modification to SpaceX to acquire up to three additional crew flights to the International Space Station as part of its Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities (CCtCap) contract. The additional crew flights allow NASA to maintain an uninterrupted U.S. capability for human access to the space station.

(more…)

Russia Threatens to Destroy U.S. GPS Satellite Constellation

Global Positioning System (Credit: DOT&E)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Well, this was a rather frightening thing to wake up to this morning. GPS World reports:

The Kremlin warned it could blow up 32 GPS satellites with its new anti-satellite technology, ASAT, which it tested Nov. 15 on a retired Soviet Tselina-D satellite, according to numerous news reports.

On the state-run Channel One, host Dmitry Kiselyov warned that Russia’s anti-satellite missiles would leave the United States and NATO blind if the multi-national defense alliance “crosses our red line.”

(more…)

NASA Postpones Today’s Spacewalk Due to Debris Warning

Spacewalkers Victor Glover and Kate Rubins are pictured at the mast canister, installing bracket support struts to the base of the solar array on Feb, 28th 2021. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The evening of Monday, Nov. 29, NASA received a debris notification for the International Space Station. Due to the lack of opportunity to properly assess the risk it could pose to the astronauts, teams have decided to delay the spacewalk planned for Tuesday, Nov. 30 until more information is available. The space station schedule and operations are able to easily accommodate the delay of the spacewalk. The latest information and future spacewalk dates will be shared on  https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station  and  @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Editor’s Note: Although the NASA announcement doesn’t say so specifically, the debris is likely from a recent Russian anti-satellite test that destroyed a derelict Soviet military satellite. The resulting debris forced the seven occupants of the station to take shelter in their Soyuz and Crew Dragon return vehicles.

NASA Assigns Astronaut Jessica Watkins to NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Mission

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins is scheduled to fly to space for the first time as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission launching to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has assigned astronaut Jessica Watkins to serve as a mission specialist on the agency’s upcoming SpaceX Crew-4 mission, the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.

This will be Watkins’ first trip to space following her selection as an astronaut in 2017. Watkins joins NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, as a crew member for the Crew-4 mission.

(more…)

Axiom Space Reveals Robust Microgravity Research Portfolio for First-ever Private Mission to Visit International Space Station

The Axiom Space Ax-1 crew: former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, Canadian businessman Mark Pathy, American investor Larry Connor, and Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe. (Credit: Axiom Space)

HOUSTON, November 17, 2021 (Axiom Space PR) – Axiom Space, a leader in human spaceflight and human-rated space infrastructure, announced today the research underpinning its historic Ax-1 mission targeted for launch to the International Space Station in February 2022. On the first fully private mission to ever visit the ISS, the multinational crew of four private astronauts with Axiom’s Michael López-Alegría as commander will pioneer a new phase of microgravity utilization amongst non-government entities – laying the groundwork for a full realization of low-Earth orbit’s possibilities and bringing critical findings back down to Earth.

(more…)

Russian Defense Ministry Boasts of ASAT Accuracy, Dismisses Orbital Debris Risk & Blames United States for Militarizing Space

Location of the 24,000 debris larger than 10 cm in low orbit in 2020. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite condemnation from Western governments, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu seemed rather pleased with the results of an anti-missile test (ASAT) test that destroyed a defunct Soviet satellite, scattered more than 1,500 pieces of debris in Earth orbit, and endangered the seven-member crew of the International Space Station (ISS). TASS reports:

(more…)

Cosmic Kiss Mission Begins as Matthias Maurer Arrives at the Space Station

ESA astronaut of German nationality Matthias Maurer. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The four Crew-3 astronauts were launched in a new SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, called Endurance, atop a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA at 02:03 GMT/03:03 CET Thursday 11 November. They arrived at the Station around 22 hours later for a six-month stay in orbit. 

(more…)

Crew-3 Arrives at International Space Station

The Expedition 66 crew poses for a photo after SpaceX Crew-3’s arrival to station. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Running more than 30 minutes ahead of schedule, the SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts docked to the International Space Station at 6:32 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 11, less than 24 hours after launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer opened the hatch of their Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance at 8:25 p.m. and participated in a welcome ceremony with their new Expedition 66 crewmates at 9 p.m.

On board to welcome them were fellow astronaut Mark Vande Hei, Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos. Joining the welcome ceremony from Earth were Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations, NASA and Josef Aschbacher, ESA director-general.

The newest crew to the microgravity laboratory is the agency’s third crew rotation mission with SpaceX and will remain on board until April 2022 as a part of Expedition 66.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.