Axiom Space inks deal with SpaceX for 3 more private spaceflights to space station

First private SpaceX spaceflight to ISS scheduled for early 2022

In this Saturday, April 24, 2021 photo made available by NASA, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule approaches the International Space Station for docking. (NASA via AP)
In this Saturday, April 24, 2021 photo made available by NASA, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule approaches the International Space Station for docking. (NASA via AP)

Houston-based Axiom Space has now contracted four launches with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to fly paying customers to the International Space Station.

The private spaceflight facilitator announced Wednesday that it has signed a deal with SpaceX for four total Dragon flights. The company previously announced Ax-1 and 2 flights but added two more, according to a news release.

“We are beyond excited to build upon our partnership with Axiom to help make human spaceflight more accessible for more people,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement. “A new era in human spaceflight is here.”

Ax-1 and Ax-2 crews have already been announced. The first private ISS mission is targeted for January 2022. Recently, Axiom announced former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and champion GT racer John Shoffner will fly on Ax-2, also some time next year.

“Axiom was founded on a vision of lasting commercial development of space,” Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said in a statement. “We are on track to enable that future by managing the first-ever private missions to the ISS as a precursor to our development of the world’s first commercial space station. SpaceX has blazed the trail with reliable, commercial human launch capability and we are thrilled to partner with them on a truly historic moment.”

Axiom’s first customers include Larry Connor, a real estate and tech entrepreneur from Dayton, Ohio, Canadian financier Mark Pathy and Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe, a close friend of Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was killed in the space shuttle Columbia accident in 2003.

The men have paid over $55 million for a three-day trip to the space station.

The Axiom flights are separate from the September launch SpaceX has scheduled with businessman Jared Isaacman and three contest winners who will orbit the Earth in a modified Crew Dragon capsule, known as the Inspiration 4 mission.

Axiom is also working on building its own private space station under an agreement with NASA to attach the first modules to the existing International Space Station.