September 12, 2023Axiom Space Announces Astronauts for Third Mission to ISSAx-3 Mission, News, ReleaseFIRST ALL-EUROPEAN COMMERCIAL ASTRONAUT MISSION TO LAUNCH NO EARLIER THAN JANUARY 2024 Today, Axiom Space announced the full crew complement for its third mission, Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3), to the International Space Station (ISS), after receiving NASA and ISS-partner approval for the four-person, multi-national team to travel to the orbiting laboratory no earlier than January 2024. Ax-3 will be the first all-European commercial astronaut mission to launch to the ISS – redefining the pathway to low-Earth orbit (LEO) and helping chart a course toward Axiom Station, the world’s first commercial space station.In an historic venture, three countries – Italy, Türkiye, and Sweden through the European Space Agency (ESA) – have united for Ax-3, with Axiom Space’s Chief Astronaut and Commander Michael López-Alegría leading the commercial mission, representing both the U.S. and Spain as a dual-citizen. The Ax-3 pilot is Italian Air Force Col. Walter Villadei, and the two mission specialists are Alper Gezeravcı of Türkiye and ESA project astronaut Marcus Wandt of Sweden. Villadei, Gezeravcı, and Wandt have extensive flight crew experience and have all served in their nation’s Air Forces.“It is an honor to command another private astronaut mission with Axiom Space and lead a dynamic crew of professional operators representing several nations across one region of the world,” said López-Alegría, former NASA astronaut and Ax-1 commander. “This crew is shifting the paradigm of how governments and space agencies access and reap the benefits of microgravity. The Ax-3 mission will be transformational as it fosters partnerships outside the construct of the ISS and positions European nations as pioneers of the emerging commercial space industry. I look forward to working with this team and with all those who will support our mission on the ground, on orbit, and around the world.”As part of Ax-3, Türkiye is sending its first astronaut to space in a larger effort to expand the nation’s space exploration capabilities and establish a national human spaceflight program. Ax-3 will also be the first commercial spaceflight mission for an ESA-sponsored astronaut. For Italy, the Ax-3 mission represents a whole-of-country effort to foster its endeavor for safe, secure, and effective access to space. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Ax-3 crew aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to the ISS from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once docked, the Ax-3 astronauts plan to spend up to 14 days on board implementing a full mission comprised of microgravity research, educational outreach, and commercial activities.Axiom Space is currently the commercial space industry’s only full-service orbital mission provider conducting end-to-end crewed missions for private astronauts, both private individuals and those sponsored by governments. Axiom Space's broad range of services – in collaboration with NASA and SpaceX – includes training and flying private astronauts, access to training facilities and instructors, hardware and safety certification, and operational on-orbit management.Candidates for flight complete Axiom Space's rigorous training curriculum over many months in preparation to live and work in space. The expert team at Axiom Space is helping nations and organizations build human spaceflight programs, develop astronaut selection programs, and provide the expertise needed to expand the international community of space explorers to a larger and more diverse representation of humanity. Axiom Space is leveraging the capabilities and resources of the ISS to build the world’s first commercial space station, where access to space moves beyond the partners of the ISS to include countries, institutions, industries, and individuals with new ideas fueling a human economy beyond Earth. Private astronaut missions to the International Space Station are a precursor to Axiom Station and part of the efforts to develop a thriving LEO ecosystem and global space marketplace.
Ax-3 Commander Michael López-Alegría (left), Pilot Walter Villadei, Mission Specialist Alper Gezeravcı, and Mission Specialist Marcus Wandt.
The crew of Axiom-3, set to lift off in January for a visit to the ISS (L-R: Marcus Wandt of ESA/Sweden; Walter Villadei of Italy; Commander Michael López-Alegría; and Alper Gezeravcı of Turkey).
Quote from: Ben Cooper tweetThe crew of Axiom-3, set to lift off in January for a visit to the ISS (L-R: Marcus Wandt of ESA/Sweden; Walter Villadei of Italy; Commander Michael López-Alegría; and Alper Gezeravcı of Turkey).
One difference in the upcoming Ax-3 mission vs Ax-1 is the role of other governments. Each of the three crew members have been chosen to represent their respective country in space, with costs covered by their government, expanding access to the ISS.
October 9, 2023Axiom Space to Hold Media Roundtable with Ax-3 CrewAx-3 Mission, NewsAxiom Space will hold a virtual media roundtable with the astronauts of Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3), the first all-European commercial astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The roundtable will give the Ax-3 crew an opportunity to highlight their experiences leading up to the mission, discuss their preparedness, and explain the mission objectives; this will be the first opportunity for reporters to engage with the full Ax-3 crew. In an historic venture, three countries – Italy, Türkiye, and Sweden through the European Space Agency (ESA) – have united for Ax-3. Axiom Space’s Chief Astronaut Michael López-Alegría (dual citizen of the U.S. and Spain), former NASA astronaut and Axiom Mission 1 commander, will serve as the Ax-3 commander. Italian Air Force Col. Walter Villadei will serve as pilot. The two mission specialists are Alper Gezeravcı of Türkiye and European Space Agency (ESA) project astronaut Marcus Wandt of Sweden.As part of Ax-3, Türkiye is sending its first astronaut to space in a larger effort to expand the nation’s space exploration capabilities and establish a national human spaceflight program. Ax-3 will also be the first commercial spaceflight mission for an ESA-sponsored astronaut. For Italy, the Ax-3 mission represents a whole-of-country effort to foster its endeavor for safe, secure, and effective access to space. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Ax-3 crew aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to the ISS from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida no earlier than January 2024. Once docked, the Ax-3 astronauts plan to spend up to 14 days on board implementing a full mission comprised of microgravity research, educational outreach, and commercial activities.AX-3 CREW MEDIA ROUNDTABLE Monday, October 16 at 9:00am CTParticipants include:Michael López-Alegría, Ax-3 Commander, Axiom Space, U.S. and Spain Walter Villadei, Ax-3 Pilot, ItalyAlper Gezeravcı, Ax-3 Mission Specialist, TürkiyeMarcus Wandt, Ax-3 Mission Specialist, ESA/SwedenMedia must register to participate and RSVP by 12:00pm CT on October 13. After registering, media will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the virtual roundtable.Register here for the Ax-3 media roundtable: https://axiomspace.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uj8-ZE2GSIWh1tVPUY1VTgFollow along for mission updates with #Ax3 on X, Instagram, and Facebook, and on our website.
Happening now: the crew of the @Axiom_Space Ax-3 mission, the third private astronaut mission to the ISS, is speaking about their mission for NET Jan. 2024.Follow along for the highlights. 🧵 1/n2/ @CommanderMLA will lead the mission as the commander, as he did on the Ax-1 mission.Walter Villadei (@WalterVilladei), the head of the Italian Air Force office at Axiom Space, will serve as the mission's pilot.3/ The mission specialists are Alper Gezeravci, the first Turkish astronaut, and @esa astronaut Marcus Wandt (@astro_marcus).4/ Discussing the mission patch, Mike LA notes that all four men have experience as military pilots. López-Alegría served in the U.S. Navy and the other three served in the Air Force of their respective countries.He says the shield shape is for "strength and courage."5/ Mike LA says following the first two Axiom missions, they've focused on optimizing training."I also think the SpaceX training has evolved to become more efficient."6/ Mike LA says he and @AstroPeggy will trade off as the commanders of the Axiom private astronaut missions."We have some plans in the future to expand our astronaut corps to meet the demands, but for right now, the two of us are able to share the load quite nicely."7/ Gezeravcı says he will participate in 13 experiments while on orbit as one of the Ax-3 mission specialists.He met with all of the principal investigators in June to discuss the science. They will meet again later in October to finalize things before the Jan. 2024 launch.8/ Mike LA says during Ax-1, because of the "aggressive timeline," they ended up relying on the SpX Crew-3 to assist. During Ax-2, they "offloaded" Commander Whitson's schedule, so she could assist the crew.Ax-3 will follow suit, allowing Mike LA more time to help his crew.9/ Gezeravcı says the selection process for his experiments was already completed by the time Feb. 2023 earthquake occurred, so there won't be any disaster management research for him.But he says Turksat has been working with other researchers to further study the topic.10/ Villadei says having the opportunity to fly with Virgin Galactic earlier this year on a suborbital mission was a nice precursor, but not strictly necessary to have a successful orbital mission with Ax-3.11/11 That will wrap up the Ax-3 crew briefing. The mission is set to launch to the International Space Station no earlier than January 2024 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.📸: @Axiom_Space
This international crew is shifting the paradigm of how governments and space agencies access and reap the benefits of microgravity. I couldn't be more proud to be part of Ax-3!
I'm presuming they'll fly on Freedom, but has that been announced for sure yet?
October 26, 2023Ax-3 Mission to Include Research Studies led by Italian Air Force, Italian Space AgencyAx-3 MissionMicrogravity is a unique environment to develop and enable new technologies and perform meaningful scientific research. For Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3), the Italian Air Force (ItAF) in coordination with Italy’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) are looking at this commercial human spaceflight mission as an opportunity to further strengthen Italian competences in space by carrying out experiments on the International Space Station (ISS). ItAF’s expertise in defense and security will be leveraged to support the scientific and technological community by fostering new capabilities in microgravity research and through technology and biology demonstrations, to include aeronautics, electronics, communication, and medical science.The Italian research portfolio consists of experiments led by ItAF and the Italian Space Agency (ASI – Agenzia Spaziale Italiana), which will involve Italian universities, research centers, and companies wishing to leverage microgravity for biological and technological testing and development. Experiments include projects related to spaceflight safety with the intent of fostering the national capabilities to conduct operations in space. The Italian research portfolio also include activities to investigate and mitigate the physiological effects of spaceflight on humans, understand biological changes related to health and disease on Earth, and conduct commercial activities to improve cuisine and materials development in space for long-term space habitation. ITALIAN RESEARCH STUDIES:Italian Space Operations Centre (ISOC) services for ISSDeveloped by ItAF, the ISOC system provides an updated space object catalogue and state-of-the-art algorithms for space-related events, such as collisions, and will be operated in space for the first time during the Ax-3 mission. The ISOC command and control software is the core of the ItAF Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Center, a European hub for assessing reentry and fragmentation of space objects. This project is a proof-of-concept experiment aimed at demonstrating how astronauts could be able to obtain near real-time conjunction analysis with limited support from Earth ground segments or even autonomously. Operators will be able to screen dangerous approaches and estimate orbital maneuvers. The Ax-3 crew will have the capability to monitor solar activity and report onboard events potentially related to space weather by means of a dedicated experimental service of the ISOC web portal. Evaluation of Endothelial Function in Personnel Exposed to Microgravity During Orbital Flight ActivityThis first-of-its-kind study will include a pre-flight, on-orbit, and upon re-entry ultrasound brachial artery evaluation using the “flow mediated dilation” technique complemented by blood samples for specific endothelial function markers — this will involve long-term follow ups. This study will add a new layer of knowledge about the interaction between the space environment and humans for a better understanding of the physiology of endothelium disfunction as a preclinical marker of future cardiovascular disease and an indicator of artery health in long-duration space missions.βeta-Amyloid Aggregation UpdateLed by ASI, this project builds on previous work in microgravity to investigate the aggregation of amyloid beta (Aβ) proteins, which are implicated in neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's disease). Researching proteins in microgravity provides an opportunity to better understand the mechanisms of Aβ protein aggregation and the formation of amyloid plaques, which could lead to insights into how to prevent or reverse formation in Alzheimer's patients. The research could also help identify potential risks for neurodegeneration for long-duration spaceflight, as microgravity can influence the normal folding and unfolding of proteins.Light Ion Detector for ALTEA, Anomalous Long-Term Effects on Astronauts (LIDAL)The ASI-sponsored LIDAL detector system has been measuring the ions composing cosmic radiation (from protons, up to iron) on the ISS since January 2020, when it was installed in the Columbus module — more than two terabytes of data have been acquired since installment. The project aims to develop the first, real-time radiation risk meter on the ISS to keep the crew informed about risks from cosmic radiation and space weather events.Ovarian Research In microgravity cONditions (ORION)ORION is a continuation of an ASI project to study the effects of microgravity on ovarian cells and investigate the mechanisms of hormone production and modulation in space. This research will help understand fundamental mechanisms of fertility that could translate into findings to improve the success of fertility treatments on Earth, as well as begin research to understand reproduction off Earth.PROtection MEdiated by antioxidant nanoTEchnOlogy against neuronal damage in space II (PROMETEO II) ASI’s PROMETEO II project is a follow up study aimed to investigate how exposure to microgravity and space radiation affects cellular response to stress, as well as the protective effects of specific antioxidant nanoparticles on neuronal cells. The results could help develop countermeasures for future spaceflight missions and build on efforts to develop therapeutic tools to treat neurodegenerative diseases on Earth. The European Space Agency is providing the use of the KUBIK facility of Columbus model of the ISS, for this ASI national contribution.AstRNAuts A multi-Organ signature of circulating (small) noncoding RNAs as early predictors to study the astronauts’ physiologic changes occurring in microgravity conditions.AstRNAuts is a project led by ASI aimed to characterize distinctive molecular signatures of circulating biomarkers that are altered upon exposure to space, which will be monitored before and after the Ax-3 mission. The project is of great scientific interest to understand how space missions affect the human body in space, as these biomarkers could be used to monitor astronauts’ health status and develop point-of-care devices for diagnosis and prognosis of diseases.NUTProfile of the alterations induced by stress conditions in short-duration space missions compared with the effects observed in submarine missions.NUT is an ASI-led project to better understand the physiological adaptation mechanisms that human organisms put in place to cope with environmental conditions in space. In particular, the project will study the expression profile of different molecular markers before and after a human spaceflight mission by discriminating the effects induced by microgravity and cosmic rays from those caused by confinement, isolation, and psychophysical stress. Radiation Shielding TextilesIn partnership with the Italian race car engineering and manufacturing company Dallara, this project will measure the shielding capacity and effects of radiation on various advanced aerospace materials for spaceflight. The materials could be used to make components of future space stations, spacecraft, and spacesuits to help shield humans and hardware from space radiation.Remote monitoring of the health status of astronautsThis project helps monitor the health status of an astronaut before, during, and after a human spaceflight mission. The Italian healthcare company GVM Assistance will utilize its telemedicine services to monitor in real-time an astronaut’s health, such as their cardiovascular system, and carry out on-orbit video consultations in microgravity. With the integration of GVM Assistance medical devices, it will enable the detection of bioparameters necessary to monitor the health of the astronaut, in which they will use the GVM Assistance Space Health application to connect with the GVM Assistance Medical Operations Center. By evaluating the trend of bioparameters during various moments of the mission, ground teams will be able to verify some of the effects of microgravity on the human body.
Credit: Italian Air Force | ISOC system provides an updated space object catalogue and state-of-the-art algorithms for space-related events, such as collisions.
Credit: Italian Air Force | Color e PW Doppler Ultrasound of left brachial artery showing blood flow during reactive hyperaemia
Credit: Courtesy of Dr. L. Bertuccini, Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) / ASI
Credit: L. Parmitano / ESA
Credit: ASI / Università degli studi di Roma La Sapienza
Credit. ASI / Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT)
Credit: ASI /Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT)
Credit: ASI / Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche Sperimentali Cliniche "Mario Serio" dell'Università di Firenze