Axiom Space’s third private astronaut mission is on track for a liftoff next year.
Houston-based Axiom Space‘s Ax-3 flight remains on track for a launch toward the International Space Station (ISS) no sooner than January 2024. The four crewmembers, including a former NASA astronaut, a European Space Agency reserve astronaut and a passenger who flew to suborbital space with Virgin Galactic earlier this year, spoke with journalists on Monday (Oct. 16) about their excitement.
“I’m very happy to be a part of this mission and this great crew,” Swedish astronaut Marcus Wandt said during the livestreamed press conference, emphasizing that Ax-3 will include representation from government and industry alike in his country. “I’m also proud of being trusted by Sweden and Europe to represent Sweden [in] space and throughout this mission, which to me is so much more than the 14-plus days in space
, and my background as a fighter pilot and test pilot as well.”
Ax-3 will launch to the ISS from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, using SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. (Axiom signed an agreement with SpaceX in 2021 to launch three additional crews to space after the pioneering mission Ax-1, which flew in April 2022; additionally, SpaceX is the only fully certified commercial spacecraft for NASA missions so far.)
Related: Axiom Space names Ax-3 astronaut crew for SpaceX mission to ISS
The mission will be led by former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, a dual U.S.-Spanish citizen who also commanded Ax-1. He will be joined by Wandt, who was called up from his reserve astronaut status when assigned to Ax-3; Italian Air Force Col. Walter Villadei, who flew to suborbital space on Virgin Galactic’s first commercial launch this past June; and Turkey’s first citizen in space, Alper Gezeravcı. It will be López-Alegría’s sixth space mission, Villadei’s second and the first for Wandt and Gezeravcı.
López-Alegría said the training is going smoothly and that the crew…