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A non-public firm has a crew that’s going to the ISS subsequent 12 months

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Axiom Space has signed three private astronauts to join former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría on Ax-1, the first private mission to orbit and to the International Space Station.

The mission: In March, Axiom Space announced plans to launch "the first fully private manned space mission in history to the International Space Station". The mission, called the Ax-1, would continue on SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicle to deliver private astronauts to the ISS for at least eight days.

At the International Astronautical Congress last month, Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said the company intends to launch in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The crew: Details are still sparse. We know former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría will be part of the mission, but the three other astronauts have not yet been announced. The promotional image Axiom posted on Wednesday shows three male silhouettes, suggesting there will be no female astronauts on board.

There is some exciting conversation going on on Twitter and elsewhere, suggesting that two of the other astronauts could be actor Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman, who spoke to NASA about making a movie on the ISS. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine mentioned in June that Axiom was involved in those talks.

Further implications: Beyond filmmaking, Ax-1 would be a milestone in NASA's goal of opening the ISS to private industry activity and using the space station as a platform to advance the commercialization of low-earth orbit before its planned lifespan ends in 2030. Axiom plans to introduce a habitat module for the ISS in 2024, which will be just the first part of a larger private space station to be built and assembled later in the decade.

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Steven Gregory