For those who wish one day to visit the International Space Station (ISS)know that the NASA just change its rules regarding private astronauts. From now on, the civilians who will go on board the orbital station must be accompanied by a former NASA astronaut.
This change was announced by the US space agency on 1er last August. It comes a few months after the private company’s first trip Axiom Space to the ISS. This mission took place last April, and the crew consisted of 3 civilians and the former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegría. The latter was in command of the mission.
According to NASA, the purpose of this change is to “provide a link between ISS resident astronauts and private astronauts and reduce risk to ISS operations and station safety.”
Changes affecting Axiom Space
This announcement was made less than six months after Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini made statements regarding his company’s missions. Suffredini had declared that the company hoped to be able to launch 4 paying clients to the ISS by its 4th mission, that is, without an astronaut to serve as commander.
This change will therefore affect Axiom in terms of profitability. However, the company would not comment on the profitability of sending only 3 paying customers to the ISS.
In any case, we already know that Axiom’s second mission to the ISS will be led by a former NASA astronaut and it is scheduled to launch around the beginning of next year.
Apart from this condition concerning crew members, NASA has also announced that private astronaut missions must also submit research plans. These plans should be presented a year in advance in front of the ISS National Laboratory.
According to SpaceNews, this is a response to Axiom’s first mission which was rushed. During a conference given in May, López-Alegría had moreover admitted that “the timetable for the trip was very aggressive”.
López-Alegría said at the time that they were so focused on research the first 8 to 10 days in orbit that it took them the extra time to complete the experiments, contact friends and family, and enjoy the travel.
In any case, a mission in space is never easy. It is always better to have a professional with you to avoid possible problems.