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GMCStream - Flash News 3/31/22 Astronauts Never Retire - When NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria returned from his fourth flight in April 2007, he dreamed that 15 years later he would be heading back into orbit, this time to oversee a group of paying travelers to the International Space Station. For his fifth flight, slated to launch as early as April 26, 2022.
When NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria returned from his fourth flight in April 2007, he never imagined that 15 years later he would be heading back into orbit, this time to oversee a group of paying travelers to the International Space Station. For his fifth flight, slated to launch as early as March 30 from the Kennedy Space Center, Lopez-Alegria will ride a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule chartered by his employer, Houston-based Axiom Space. Joining Lopez-Alegria for a planned 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will be three spaceflight participants, the largest group of nonprofessional astronauts to visit the outpost at one time. “This has been a magical tour for me,” Lopez-Alegria, 63, .... “I left NASA completely content with my career and with no aspirations or expectations of going back.”
AXIOM SPACE – HOUSTON, TEXAS
The company is privately owned and funded by Michael T. Suffredini (CEO) Kam Ghaffarian (Executive Chairman; Rob Meyerson (Director); Amir Blachman (CBO); Brent W. Jett Jr.; Charles Bolden; Christian Maender; Matt Ondler; and Michael Lopez-Alegria. Axiom is funded by investor capital; namely, C5 Capital, TQS Advisors, Declaration Partners, Moelis Dynasty Investments, Washington University in St. Louis, The Venture Collective, Aidenlair Capital, Hemisphere Ventures, and Starbridge Venture Capital.
"It is mission to provide services for Human spaceflight In-space research and manufacturing. On April 3, 2022, SpaceX and the private spaceflight company Axiom Space will make history with the launch of Ax-1, the first all-private mission to the International Space Station. The mission, designated Ax-1, marks the first private spaceflight to the ISS under the auspices of NASA, which plans to sponsor two such missions per year as part of a program to bolster commercial development in low Earth orbit (LEO). However, Elon Musk might have de-railed those Ax-1 Plans."
Axiom has contracted with SpaceX for four charter flights to the ISS, though only NASA has approved Ax-1. Axiom intends to use the sorties as testbeds and proving grounds for operations of an Axiom-owned wing that is to be added to the ISS beginning in 2024.The early private astronaut missions are not a money-making effort for Axiom, which charges customers upward of $50 million apiece. On those flights, Axiom sells three seats and uses the fourth to fly an employee. “We need to learn to work with NASA, and NASA needs to learn to work with private entities,” says Mary Lynne Dittmar, Axiom executive vice president for government affairs. “We’re investing in the process.”
"Lopez-Alegria is among NASA’s most experienced astronauts, having spent 257 days in space over four flights, including six months on the ISS as commander of the September 2006-April 2007 Expedition 14. He left NASA in 2012 and served as president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, an industry advocacy organization. Initially skeptical of private space travel, Lopez-Alegria changed his views after experiencing firsthand the missions of spaceflight participants Anousheh Ansari and Charles Simonyi on the ISS in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
"Now flying as the Ax-1 commander, Lopez-Alegria will oversee three paying passengers: Larry Connor, 72, a Dayton, Ohio-based real estate, and technology entrepreneur; Mark Pathy, 52, chairman and CEO of Mavrik, a Montreal-based investment firm; and Israeli entrepreneur Eytan Stibbe, 64, founding partner of Vital Capital, an impact investment company that focuses on developing countries. “The private astronauts are not trained to the level of the professional astronauts, by any means, but they are qualified to be what are called ‘users’ on several [ISS] systems,” Lopez-Alegria says.
The International Space Station (ISS), a great Space Technology achievement of Russia and the United States, has three different qualification levels—user, operator, and specialist—for each system. The Ax-1 crew also has trained extensively on emergency procedures in case of fire, spacecraft depressurization, an ammonia leak from the station’s cooling system and a less toxic leak, such as battery acid. In total, the private astronaut training program takes about 100 hr. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how adept these guys ended up being, though to be fair, two of the three guys had a fair amount of operational background,” Lopez--Alegria says. “Eytan is a fighter pilot, and Larry has [had] a lot of time in acrobatic airplanes, race car driving and those. Mark has none of that, but all three are pretty quick studies when it comes to thinking on their feet and reacting to situations.”
Once in orbit, Lopez-Alegria expects his crew will manage their science experiments and other activities much the same as professional astronauts and cosmonauts. The biggest difference will be managing crewmembers who also are his customers. “I try really hard to let all the business between Axiom and the astronauts be via some other channel than me because I want my relationship to them to be one of a crewmate, not a customer-provider kind of exchange,”
Lopez-Alegria is not the only former NASA astronaut heading back to space on private missions. Ax-2, also targeted to launch this year, will be led by astronaut Peggy Whitson, who holds the U.S. record for the most time spent in orbit, 665 days.
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut who became the first human to journey into outer space. In 2022, based on political pressure, his name was removed from the historical space accomplishment by the Space Foundations Space Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
As a member of the Planetary Society, IEEE, Air & Space, I find it remarkable that “Space” is no longer a domain that all humanity on the earth can gain from the years of cooperation between NASA and ROSCOSMOS. When the reliable rocket engine RD-180 was eliminated by NASA. The development of an identical rocket engine was funded by billions of dollars. The pioneer in Rockets and engine technology was viewed as no longer a partner in free economic exchange and value. Five years ago, when I attended key Space Global Conference, I realized that the Congressional pollical competitiveness would emerge to destroy free International Economic trade.
NASA, because of Ukraine’s eight-year war in Donbass, as embraced the goal to leave the ISS to the Russians and Japanese. Further, Washington Leaders wanted to destroy the ISS by 2023, as NASA's coercion of the MIR to be destroyed in re-entry. As an aerospace researcher and writer, Air, Sea, Air, and now Space domains have been politicized by the Democratic Party and deemed the exclusive domain of the US Government – US State Department and the Department of Defense.The venture capitalist of MenloPark California lobbied that Space should be commercialized as a business and now they seek militarization of Space. This is a clear direction that leads to destruction.
Space activities should be neutral as Russia has conducted nine private astronaut missions to the ISS brokered by the U.S. company Space Adventures and one mission in partnership with Russia’s Channel One television station. Sources: (AWKlotz) – (Kusiolek- researcher) Dmitry Rogozin- Roscosmos (notes -StPetersburg RU Feb 2022 Space Conference)
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