NASA reveals the Date for its first Space Tourism mission to ISS

On February 28, 2022, NASA plans to launch the first commercial space tourism mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Axiom Space, located in Texas, is organizing the expedition, which will use SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft. The Ax-1 space tourism mission, or “private astronaut” mission, will last a week and be crewed by Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy, American entrepreneur Larry Connor, and former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe, along with mission commander and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegra.

The three amateur astronauts are said to have paid $55 million apiece for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend 250 miles above Earth on the space station. The trio will work on their own research and charity projects during their stay in space, with health-related activities likely to be their primary focus.

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“These are crucial steps!. We’d like to express our gratitude to our worldwide partners. Based on station traffic planning, the launch date has been pushed back to February 28. It’s fantastic to see us leveraging @Space Station and expanding access to low-Earth orbit!”  Kathy Lueders, the administrator of NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate, wrote on Twitter 

Axiom had been chosen for its second private astronaut trip, which will take place between fall 2022 and late spring 2023 and would likewise be intended for the International Space Station.

As part of attempts to raise funding and increase access to space, NASA and its Russian equivalent, Roscosmos, are speeding up efforts to commercialize the ISS. The rocket flights are seen by critics as a waste of money and a source of pollution. 

Roscosmos utilized a Soyuz spacecraft to transport two Japanese space tourists to the ISS earlier this month. American Dennis Tito became the first space tourist in 2001, shortly after the ISS began operations, after paying a reported $20 million for a journey to the station on board a Soyuz spacecraft. The last tourist missions to the ISS took place in 2009, using Roscosmos hardware once again. One of the passengers, Hungarian-American software architect Charles Simonyi, flew to the ISS twice, in 2007 and 2009, becoming the first and only person to pay for his own voyage to space.