NASA’s private spaceflight move paves the way for future space tourism

NASA astronaut will serve as the mission commander and provide guidance “during pre-flight preparation through mission execution,” read the update.

NASA’s experience with Axiom

Axiom Space was planning to send future missions without a NASA astronaut aboard, having four paying customers instead of three, according to SpaceNews.

Axiom’s Ax-1 mission conducted several research experiments aboard the ISS, including the first two-way holoportation experiment in space and an EEG-enabled space helmet.

Holoportation is a new 3D capture technology that allows high-quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed, and transmitted anywhere in the world in real-time.

Ax-1 crew consisted of three wealthy investors and entrepreneurs: Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy, who had never been to space before. They were joined by Michael López-Alegría, Ax-1 mission commander and a former NASA astronaut. The group admitted that they were taken aback by the amount of work they had to do on the ISS.

“We got up there and, boy, we were overwhelmed,” López-Alegría said during a press conference after the mission.

NASA's private spaceflight move paves the way for future space tourism

Mike Lopez-Alegria and Larry Connor in SpaceX training.

The former NASA astronaut said, “Getting used to zero gravity is not an overnight thing.”

The crew’s presence also placed pressure on the existing crew’s schedule.

“In essence, the arrival of the Axiom personnel seemed to have a larger-than-expected impact on the daily workload on the professional International Space Station crew,” said Susan Helms, a former NASA astronaut and member of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, during a panel meeting in May.

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