Credit: NASA TV

After a journey of almost 21 hours, Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria, Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy arrived at the International Space Station at 8:29 a.m. EDT Saturday, April 9. The SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft docked to the orbital complex while the spacecraft were flying about 260 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.

Dragon’s docking was delayed approximately 45 minutes as the space station teams, including mission controls at NASA and SpaceX, worked to troubleshoot an issue preventing the crew members on station from receiving views from Dragon’s center line camera of the Harmony’s modules docking port. Mission teams worked to route video using a SpaceX ground station to the crew on the space station allowing Dragon to proceed with docking.

The Axiom astronauts were welcomed by Expedition 67 crew members, including NASA astronauts Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsokov, and Denis Matveev. With the addition of the Ax astronauts there are now 11 people working and living on the orbiting laboratory. The crew received a call from the ground from NASA’s Kathy Lueders, Associate Administrator for Space Operations and Michael Suffredini, President and CEO, Axiom Space who congratulated the crew for making history as the first all-private astronaut crew to the International Space Station.

Shortly after, López-Alegría, in his role as mission commander, pinned Connor, Stibbe, and Pathy with a pin from the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), signifying their status as astronauts and official start of their journey aboard the space station. ASE, an international association of astronauts who have flown into Earth orbit and beyond, created the pin as a universal astronaut insignia to unite space explorers and travelers.

"There's a tradition when you pass a certain boundary you become an astronaut. That happened to these three gentlemen for the first time yesterday. Now I'd like to note it officially," López-Alegría explained before pinning each of his Ax-1 crewmates. "When I pin these on -- I think the numbers are 582, 583, and 584 for Larry, Eytan, and Mark -- I hope they will wear these with the pride they deserve."

The Ax-1 crew will live and work aboard the orbiting laboratory for eight days, conducting more than 25 research experiments across a breadth of biological and technological areas to inform future human spaceflight and improve life on Earth. Ax-1 is the first of several proposed Axiom Space missions to the International Space Station, and a critical first step toward Axiom Station, the world’s first commercial space station.

Source: Axiom Space

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Kris Christiaens

This article was published by FutureSpaceFlight founder and chief editor Kris Christiaens. Kris Christiaens has been passionate and fascinated by spaceflight and space exploration all his life and has written hundreds of articles on space projects, the commercial space industry and space missions over the past 20 years for magazines, books and websites. In late 2021, he founded the website FutureSpaceFlight with the goal of promoting new space companies and commercial space projects and compiling news of these start-ups and companies on one website.