Axiom Space’s third commercial astronaut mission, Ax-3, is set to be a historic event as the first all-European commercial astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission underscores a new era in space travel, where access to low-Earth orbit (LEO) is becoming increasingly commercialized and international.
The mission is scheduled for launch on January 17, 2024, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ax-3 crew will travel aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, propelled by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The scheduled launch time is at 5:11 p.m. ET. Booster B1080 will make its fifth flight and landing. It will return to landing zone one about eight minutes after launch and produce a sonic boom as it announces its return.
Ax-3 boasts an all-European crew, led by Commander Michael López-Alegría of the U.S. and Spain. He is joined by Pilot Walter Villadei of the Italian Air Force, and Mission Specialists Alper Gezeravcı of Türkiye and Marcus Wandt of Sweden, representing the European Space Agency.
Once docked to the ISS, which is anticipated to occur around 5:15 a.m. ET on January 19, the Ax-3 astronauts plan to spend up to 14 days onboard. Their mission includes a comprehensive agenda of microgravity research, technology demonstrations, and outreach events. These activities are not just scientific endeavors but also aim to inspire and educate the public about space travel and research.