THE DAWN OF PRIVATE SPACE TRAVEL
Earlier this year, the world watched with rapt attention as the first-ever astronauts to travel into orbit aboard a commercially developed spacecraft - the SpaceX Crew Dragon - prepared to return to earth after nearly two months aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The first crewed mission to launch from US soil in nearly a decade, as the capsule splashed down off the coast of Florida, the cheering was unanimous, and the resounding success of the mission signaled the true beginning of a new chapter in human spaceflight.
While there are a handful of space companies promising short thrusts out of the atmosphere, only one - Axiom Space - is offering an out-of-this-world Low Earth Orbit experience with 10-day missions to the ISS. Given a leadership team that includes the former NASA ISS Program Manager, and in excess of 35 years of collective human spaceflight experience, future astronauts are in good hands.
At the helm of the SpaceX Axiom Space-1, launching October 2021, will be a uniquely qualified individual, Commander Michael Lopez-Alegría, a U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and 4-time astronaut, who has spent 257 days in space and amassed 67 spacewalk hours, the most of any US astronaut.
SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor being recovered after Splashdown - photo credit NASA Bill Ingalls
Alongside him in the capsule will be three private astronauts. This is not science fiction! Training alongside NASA astronauts, these “Space Tourists” will take the first-ever privately crewed and managed human spaceflight to ISS, marking a turning point in the history of our species. Among those slated for future Axiom missions are movie icon Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman, who will shoot the next “Mission: Impossible” film 250 miles above the earth!
Perched in Earth’s orbit and experiencing life in weightlessness creates unique creative freedoms and inspiration. Previous astronauts have pursued anything from painting and photography, to producing music, communicating with students back on earth, and promoting philanthropic endeavors. All have returned empowered to share what they have learned, and the causes dearest to them, with a global megaphone.
Axiom Station Crew Quarter
As Commander ML-A says, the experience of seeing a sunrise and a sunset every 45 minutes, of seeing the whole of humanity spread out below you, of seeing land masses but no borders, and realizing that we are all in this together and there is no “Planet B” creates a cognitive shift in all those who have experienced this unique perspective. The “Overview Effect” instills in the viewer a global consciousness, a primordial, unending connection to Earth and all life on it, and the desire to better care for our place of origin.
The next chapter in human spaceflight is here, and these visionary early private space travelers - Space Pioneers - will forever be credited as the forerunners that made this future for humanity a reality. Will you be among them?