Space's first "all-private" space mission space station commercialization goes one step further

  This is a landmark moment!

At 10:13 US Eastern Time (22:13 Beijing Time) on April 9, the world's first "all-private" aerospace team organized by a private enterprise successfully entered the International Space Station.

  4 passengers will stay for 8 days to carry out more than 20 scientific research and educational and commercial activities.

  This is a commercial project between Axiom Space and NASA.

NASA said the mission marked a milestone in its development of the low-Earth orbit commercial market and the beginning of a new era of space exploration, enabling a wider public to participate in a wider variety of space missions.

  To the outside world, the flight is a pathfinder for a future commercial space station, one or more of which will take over from the International Space Station by the end of the century.

  one

  At 11:17 U.S. Eastern Time on April 8 (23:17 Beijing Time), SpaceX's "Dragon" spacecraft was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The International Space Station successfully docked.

  The four passengers in dark blue uniforms "drifted" into the space station in turn, shaking hands and hugging with the seven astronauts on the space station.

  Xinhua quoted Reuters as saying that due to a small technical glitch, the docking time was delayed by about 45 minutes from the original plan.

  The four passengers were 63-year-old retired American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, 70-year-old American real estate tycoon Larry Connor, who worked as a stunt pilot, and 64-year-old former Air Force fighter pilot. Israeli businessman Eitan Stiebe, and 52-year-old Canadian businessman Mark Bauty.

  Michael Lopez-Alegria, as an executive employee and commander of Axiom Aerospace, paid $55 million (about 350 million yuan) for tickets for the remaining three passengers.

  Unlike previous private spaceflights, which were mainly for sightseeing, the mission has a clear scientific goal, and the four passengers will work alongside the seven astronauts on the International Space Station.

  "There are about 25 different experiments to be done during the eight-day stay on the International Space Station, including more than 100 hours of research," Larry Connor said at a news conference on April 1. The research involved the brain Research in health, cardiac stem cells, cancer and aging.

  two

  This is not the first time in history that space travelers have visited.

  Last year, companies such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin competed in space tourism, according to media reports.

  On July 11, Virgin Galactic's "Unity" spacecraft completed its first full-crew space test flight in New Mexico, USA, accompanied by the company's founder Branson.

Nine days later, Blue Origin's "New Shepard" vehicle completed its first manned space test flight in Texas, accompanied by company founder and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

  On September 15, SpaceX successfully sent the Dragon spacecraft into space with the Falcon 9 rocket. The "space tour group" consisting of four non-professional astronauts flew in orbit around the earth for 3 days.

  The most recent was in December last year, when Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and his producer Yozo Hirano arrived at the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz capsule and completed a 12-day trip to the International Space Station, during which they filmed records everyday life on the space station.

  As the commercialization of space travel accelerates, so does the cost of individual access to space.

Previously, the cost of carrying tourists on the Russian "Soyuz" spacecraft was about 100 million US dollars per person.

  Some people have optimistically predicted that perhaps one day, space travel will only cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

  three

  However, in the eyes of industry insiders, this flight carries not only the significance of human commercial space travel, but also means that the International Space Station is going one step further towards commercialization.

  Axiom Aerospace has reportedly struck deals with SpaceX for a total of four missions.

For Axiom Space, it's the first step toward one of its ambitious goals -- building its own space station.

  In fact, in addition to Axiom Space, NASA approved development proposals for three commercial space stations late last year, with a total investment of about $415.6 million.

  Clearly, NASA intends to open the door for commercial space companies to build new commercial space stations before the International Space Station is retired.

  After the "all-private" space team successfully entered the International Space Station, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said happily: "We have extended the boundaries of Earth's trade to space."

  As planned, on April 19, the four passengers who have completed the space mission will return to Earth.

  According to the Associated Press, Axiom Space plans to make a second trip to the International Space Station in 2023, and will start building a prototype space station in 2024. It is expected to build a commercial space station five years later. Once the current International Space Station is retired, it can be replaced. .

Keywords: