Piece from SpaceX Dragon service module falls on Canadian farm

Though not yet confirmed a 90-pound piece of burned debris that crashed on a Canadian farm and found in late April appears to be a section from the trunk section of a SpaceX Dragon service module.

Jonathan McDowell, who tracks space launches and re-entries, posted on X (formerly Twitter) that the trunk from the private Axiom Space Ax-3 mission fell over Saskatchewan on Feb. 26.

This incident, along with several others over the last few years, tells us that not everything engineers thought would burn up upon re-entry does so. A major rethinking of how objects are de-orbited could be necessary.

ISS crew splashes down safely

SpaceX’s Endurance manned capsule yesterday safely splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, bringing home a crew of four astronauts from ISS after completing a six month mission.

NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, returned to Earth splashing down at 5:47 a.m. EDT. Teams aboard SpaceX recovery vessels retrieved the spacecraft and its crew. After returning to shore, the crew will fly to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

…Moghbeli, Mogensen, Furukawa, and Borisov traveled 84,434,094 miles during their mission, spent 197 days aboard the space station, and completed 3,184 orbits around Earth. The Crew-7 mission was the first spaceflight for Moghbeli and Borisov. Mogensen has logged 209 days in space over his two flights, and Furukawa has logged 366 days in space over his two flights.

This was the third flight of Endurance. As always, it is important to note that though the passengers were government employees from the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Russia, the entire splashdown crew and capsule were private employees of SpaceX. This was a private mission, purchased by those governments.

Update on Jared Isaacman’s upcoming Polaris Dawn manned mission

Link here. Bottom line is that they still hope to launch on a five day orbital mission in SpaceX’s Resilience Dragon capsule later this year, during which they will do the first privately funded non-government spacewalk.

Developing new spacworthy spacesuits remains the biggest task before the mission can fly.

In a series of social media updates on Friday and Saturday, Isaacman answered some questions from the public about the progression of the suit development and the mission overall. He stated that over the past week, they “spent a lot of time pressurized in the EVA suits working contingencies.”

Isaacman clarified as well that, unlike missions to the International Space Station chartered by either NASA or Axiom Space, the crew members of the Polaris Dawn mission won’t launch and land while wearing IVA suits. He said because they are limited with space on this flight, they will only have their EVA suits.

No launch date has yet been set.

Russia and NASA agree to extend ISS astronaut exchanges on each other’s spacecraft through 2025

Russia and NASA have agreed to extend their barter deal through 2025, whereby each nation sends astronauts to ISS periodically on the other nation’s rockets and capsules.

This is a barter deal, with no exchange of money. The fundamental idea is to make sure astronauts on board ISS understand how the capsules from each nation operate in case of emergency. Russia had initially resisted signing such a deal after SpaceX began providing NASA its Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rocket to get astronauts to ISS. It said this was because it did not trust SpaceX’s technology, but I suspect Roscosmos was also hoping to squeeze some cash from NASA as it was no longer being paid to fly U.S. astronauts on its Soyuz rocket and capsule. That attempt was futile. For numerous political reasons there was no way NASA was going to pay Russia anything in this barter deal.

Russia then signed on, and will keep extending this agreement until the day ISS is retired, or it finally launches its own station (something that is becoming increasingly unlikely).

The Polaris Dawn private space mission now targeting an April ’24 launch

The Polaris Dawn private space mission, the first of a three-mission private manned program being financed by billionaire Jared Isaacman, is now targeting an April 2024 launch.

In social media posts Dec. 9, Jared Isaacman, the billionaire backing the Polaris program and who is commanding the initial mission, said the launch of Polaris Dawn is now scheduled for April 2024. “April is the goal to launch & the pace of training is accelerating,” he wrote, stating that he was at SpaceX that day for testing of extravehicular activity (EVA) spacesuits that will be used on the mission.

Conducting a spacewalk is one of the major goals of Polaris Dawn, requiring both development of an EVA suit as well as modifications to the Crew Dragon, which lacks an airlock. Both of those have been challenges, he suggested in a subsequent post. There is a “big difference,” he wrote, between the pressure suits worn by Crew Dragon astronauts and an EVA suit “engineered from the start to be exposed to vacuum outside the spaceship.” The lack of an airlock also requires changes to Crew Dragon software and hardware to enable depressurization of the cabin before the start of the spacewalk and repressurization afterwards.

The mission’s launch has been delayed several times from its first launch target in 2022. This first flight of Isaacman’s Polaris program will, as noted, attempt the first spacewalk by a private citizen. The second would also fly on a Dragon capsule, but its mission remains unclear. Both NASA and Isaacman’s Polaris team have been studying the possibility of a repair mission to Hubble. The third mission would be on Starship, once it begins flying operationally.

Isaacman previously paid for and flew on SpaceX’s first commercial manned flight, Inspiration4, in September 2021.

SpaceX successfully launches a cargo Dragon to ISS

Using a Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Cape Canaveral, SpaceX tonight successfully launched a cargo Dragon carrying supplies to ISS.

This Dragon capsule is making its second flight. The first stage also completed its second flight, landing back at Cape Canaveral. The capsule itself will dock with ISS early Saturday morning.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

81 SpaceX
51 China
14 Russia
7 Rocket Lab
7 India

American private enterprise now leads China 93 to 51 in successful launches, and the entire world combined 93 to 80. SpaceX by itself is once again leading the rest of the world (excluding American companies) 81 to 80.

Axiom signs deal with the United Kingdom to fly all British mission

The space agency of the United Kingdom today announced that it has signed a deal with Axiom to fly an manned mission in space, with four astronauts spending up to two weeks in space (likely in a SpaceX Dragon capsule).

The flight, estimated to cost around £200 million, is being organized in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), though all the astronauts will be British. The announced commander, Tim Peake, spent six months on ISS in 2015, and has come out of retirement to do the flight.

It is also unclear at this moment whether it will fly to ISS, or simply remain in orbit. In fact, few specific details have yet been released.

The bottom line however is that the new American space industry is going to make money from Britain’s desire to be a space power. Seems like a good deal to me.

SpaceX launches four astronauts to ISS

Using its Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Cape Canaveral, SpaceX early this morning put four astronauts into orbit for a six month mission to ISS.

The Dragon capsule, Endurance, was making its third flight. The first stage, flying for the first time, landed successfully back at Cape Canaveral.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

58 SpaceX
37 China
12 Russia
7 Rocket Lab

In the national rankings, American private enterprise now leads China in successful launches 67 to 37. It also leads the entire world combined, 67 to 60, while SpaceX by itself now trails the rest of the world (excluding American companies) 58 to 60 in successful launches.

A Dragon cargo capsule had a valve issue at ISS in June

The Dragon cargo capsule that had been docked to ISS in June apparently had a faulty valve that impacted no operations but has required SpaceX to review similar valves on all manned and cargo Dragon capsules.

The valve — known as an isolation valve — is designed to come on in case of a thruster leak, Reed said during the press conference. Since no leak was happening at the time it was stuck open, the valve “didn’t have to serve any purpose.”

The affected spacecraft, known as CRS-28, otherwise returned to Earth normally on June 30 after 25 days in space. After checking into the valve on CRS-28, SpaceX looked at its entire spacecraft line. They found “corrosion among certain units,” Reed said, which SpaceX is looking into identifying and addressing.

Knowing SpaceX, it will now not only find out the root cause, but fix it so that the corrosion never appears again, thus making its Dragon spacecraft even more reliable.

SpaceX successfully launches cargo Dragon to ISS

Capitalism in space: SpaceX this morning successfully launched another cargo Dragon freighter to ISS, lifting off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral.

This cargo capsule is on its fourth flight. The first stage completed its fifth flight, landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic. The capsule carries about 7, 000 pounds of supplies, including another set of new solar arrays for ISS, and will dock with ISS tomorrow.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

38 SpaceX
20 China
8 Russia
5 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 43 to 20 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 43 to 36. SpaceX by itself leads the world 38 to 36, but when you add other American companies it still trails everyone else combined 38 to 42.

AX-2 commercial passenger flight to ISS splashes down safely

Axiom’s second commercial passenger flight to ISS, dubbed AX-2, successfully splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico a little after 11 pm (Eastern) tonight after spending eight days in space.

Recovery efforts of the Freedom capsule are still underway by SpaceX crews. It is necessary again to emphasize that this is a private mission, launched by a private company in a privately owned capsule for a private company and private passengers. The only government involvement was when the capsule was docked to ISS and the crew was on the station.

SpaceX launches Axiom’s second commercial manned mission to ISS

SpaceX today successfully used its Falcon 9 rocket to launch its Freedom manned capsule on its second flight, carrying four passengers on Axiom’s second commercial manned mission to ISS.

The Axiom crew included three paying passengers, one from the U.S. and two from Saudi Arabia, with the fourth crew member former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, now acting as Axiom’s commander. They plan to spend eight days docked to ISS. Making this commercial flight even more interesting is that the station already has a Middle Eastern commercial astronaut, from the United Arab Emirates. The Arab space race is clearing heating up.

The first stage was making its first flight, and successfully landed back at Cape Canaveral.

Were you aware this was happening? With my readers I expect so, but I am willing to bet that we are a very small minority. SpaceX has now made American manned spaceflight so routine almost no one pays attention.

The leaders in the 2023 launch race:

34 SpaceX
18 China
6 Russia
4 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise now leads China 38 to 18 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 38 to 30. SpaceX by itself is now tied in total launches with the rest of the world, including American companies.

NASA agrees to Axiom’s third planned commercial passenger mission to ISS

NASA today announced that it has given Axiom the go-ahead for its third planned commercial passenger mission to ISS, now tentatively scheduled for November 2023.

Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) is expected to spend 14 days docked to the space station. A specific launch date is dependent on spacecraft traffic to the space station and in-orbit activity planning and constraints. NASA and Axiom Space mission planners will coordinate in-orbit activities for the private astronauts to conduct in coordination with space station crew members and flight controllers on the ground.

As NASA did in announcing its agreement to Axiom’s previous flight, the agency’s press release makes believe it “selected” Axiom for this flight, as if it had the power and right to do so. Hogwash. Axiom has purchased the flight from SpaceX, and wishes to rent space on ISS for two weeks for its customers. All NASA has done is agree to the deal, while also charging Axiom very large fees for that rental.

SpaceX launches cargo Dragon to ISS

Capitalism in space: SpaceX tonight successfully used its Falcon 9 rocket to put a cargo Dragon capsule into orbit and on its way to ISS.

The first stage successfully completed its seventh flight, landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic. The Dragon freighter is making its third flight, and will dock with ISS on the morning of March 16th.

The 2023 launch race:

17 SpaceX
9 China
4 Russia
1 Rocket Lab
1 Japan
1 India

American private enterprise now leads China 18 to 9 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 18 to 15. SpaceX alone leads entire world, including the rest of the U.S., 17 to 16.

Endeavour docks with ISS

Endeavour tonight has successfully docked with ISS.

When the spacecraft got within about 70 feet of the station, there was a delay of a little more than an hour while ground controllers installed a software overide to a sensor for monitoring the position of one of the 12 hooks on Endeavour, used to lock it to ISS’s docking port. Though visual and other data showed the hook was working, the sensor could not, and without that software override Endeavour would automatically abort the docking.

This same sensor had caused a delay in the opening of the capsule’s nosecone yesterday shortly after launch.

As of posting the hatch had not yet been opened, something that should occur in about an hour or so. Though Endeavour is docked, more checks needed to be done beforehand.

SpaceX successfully launches its Endeavour capsule carrying four astronauts

Capitalism in space: SpaceX tonight used its Falcon 9 rocket to successfully launch its Endeavour capsule from Cape Canaveral, carrying four astronauts to ISS.

This was Endeavour’s fourth flight. It will dock with ISS in about 24 hours. The four-person crew included two Americans, one Russian (the second to fly on a Dragon capsule), and the first citizen of the United Arab Emirates to fly on an American spacecraft. He will stay on the station for six months.

The Falcon 9 first stage was making its first flight, and successfully landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic. This was only the fourth new first stage used by SpaceX since January 2022 (out of 75 launches), and the second launched this year.

The 2023 launch race:

14 SpaceX
7 China
3 Russia
1 Rocket Lab
1 Japan
1 India

American private enterprise now leads China 15 to 7 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 15 to 12. SpaceX alone leads the entire world combined, including all other American companies, 14 to 13.

Manned Endeavour launch tonight on Falcon 9 scrubbed at T-2:12

UPDATE: New launch date, still tentative pending investigation into the technical issue that forced tonight’s scrub, is now March 2, 2023, at 12:32 am Eastern.

The fourth manned launch of SpaceX’s Endeavour Dragon capsule, carrying four astronauts, was scrubbed tonight at T-2:12 because of an issue with ground ignition system of the rocket. As of posting no additional details had been released, as the launch team was in the process of standing down, unloading the fuel from the rocket in preparation for getting the astronauts out of the capsule safely.

Assuming the issue can be fixed quickly, there is another launch opportunity tomorrow, February 28, at 1:22 am (Eastern). For SpaceX a launch scrub for technical reasons has become remarkably rare. In fact, the only other scrub since 2020 for technical reasons took place in July 2022. During that time the company successfully launched more than 100 times, thus getting off the ground as scheduled about 99% of the time, excluding weather delays.

While the Endeavour capsule will be making its fourth flight, when this launch finally takes place the rocket’s first stage is a new stage and will be making its first flight. This has also become a relatively rare event for SpaceX. In 2022, of the company’s 61 launches, only three used new first stages. So far this year this launch will be the second new stage to fly, out of the thirteen launches so far.

First picture of hole that occurred on Soyuz in December

Hole in First picture of hole that occurred on Soyuz in December

Russia has now released an image taken using the robot arm on ISS of the leak that occurred on its Soyuz capsule docked to ISS in December.

The picture to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, is that image. This is not the coolant leak hole on the Progress freighter on February 11th, this past weekend. As of now no image of that hole has ever been released.

No interpretation of this hole and the stain around it has as yet been released. However, Russia has now postponed the launch of the next Soyuz capsule from February 19th until early March in order “to give investigators time to rule out similar issues in the upcoming mission.” This Soyuz was to launch unmanned to replace the Soyuz that leaked in December and provide the astronauts that launched on that leaking Soyuz a safe lifeboat that they could come home on.

Meanwhile, all communications with ISS have now been shifted to the private channels, so the public cannot hear them.

All these actions strongly suggest that both the Russians and Americans are now seriously considering the possibility of sabotage or damage to the coolant systems on all Russian spacecraft, before they leave the factory and are launched.

ISS as of February 11, 2023

To clarify the situation, the image to the right shows all the spacecraft presently docked to ISS. Progress 82 is the spacecraft that experienced a leak in its coolant system on February 11th. Soyuz-MS22 experienced a leak in its coolant system in December. At the moment the only safe vehicle for returning the seven astronauts on ISS is Crew-5 Dragon, SpaceX’s Endurance spacecraft. Should a major catastrophe occur requiring an immediate evacuation of the station, the plan right now is for five astronauts to come home on Endurance, and two Russians to come home on the damaged Soyuz. (The thinking is that having only two men on board will prevent too much of a temperature rise during the return to Earth because of the lack of its coolant system.)

With the delay in the launch of the replacement Soyuz lifeboat, this emergency plan will be in place for at least three weeks longer.

Astronauts complete Soyuz seat liner installation inside Endurance

Astronauts today completed the installation of Frank Rubio’s Soyuz seat liner inside the Dragon capsule Endurance so that he can return to Earth should an emergency requiring evacuation occur on ISS.

On Jan. 17, NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada, with assistance from NASA Flight Engineer Nicole Mann, worked inside the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship collecting tools and readying the spacecraft for a seat liner move. The seat liner move, completed today, Jan. 18, ensures NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio will be able to return to Earth in the unlikely event of an emergency evacuation from the International Space Station. Rubio originally launched to the station with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin aboard the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship on Sept. 21, 2022. The change allows for increased crew protection by reducing the heat load inside the MS-22 spacecraft for Prokopyev and Petelin in case of an emergency return to Earth.

It would be fascinating to get more details about the work that was done to install this Soyuz seat liner in Endurance. Clearly some improvisation was required.

Regardless, this work is only temporary, since Rubio’s seat liner will be shifted again into the replacement Soyuz scheduled to arrive in mid-February.

American astronaut seat liner shifted to Dragon temporarily

Though NASA has not issued an update, the Soyuz seat liner used by American astronaut Frank Rubio was supposed to be shifted from the leaking Soyuz capsule to Endurance today, just in case that Soyuz needs to be used as a lifeboat. From the January 13th ISS update:

On Thursday, Jan. 12, the International Space Station mission management team polled “go” to move NASA astronaut Frank Rubio’s Soyuz seat liner from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft to Dragon Endurance to provide lifeboat capabilities in the event Rubio would need to return to Earth because of an emergency evacuation from the space station. The seat liner move is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 17, with installation and configuration continuing through most of the day Wednesday, Jan. 18. The change allows for increased crew protection by reducing the heat load inside the MS-22 spacecraft for cosmonauts Prokopyev and Petelin in the event of an emergency return to Earth.

Once the replacement Soyuz MS-23 arrives at the space station on Feb. 22, Rubio’s seat liner will be transferred to the new Soyuz and the seat liners for Prokopyev and Petelin will be moved from MS-22 to MS-23 ahead of their return in the Soyuz.

I expect that once this work is completed tomorrow NASA will issue an update.

Russian investigators conclude leak on Soyuz caused by external impact

ISS as of November 28, 2022
ISS after November 28, 2022 docking of unmanned Dragon freighter.
MS-22 is the Soyuz capsule that is leaking.

The Russian investigators yesterday concluded that the coolant leak on the Soyuz capsule docked to ISS was caused by an external impact, either by a meteroid or a small piece of space junk.

A decision on whether this capsule is still usable for manned flight will be made sometime in January. If not, Russia will move up the launch of the next Soyuz to ISS one month from March to February, but launch it empty. If so, managers will leave the schedule as is.

If the engineers determine the capsule is not flightworthy, it will mean however that until February, ISS is short one lifeboat. At present there are two Dragon capsules docked to ISS, one manned and one cargo. Both return to Earth with a habitable interior, but the cargo capsule is not intended for manned flight. In an emergency however it might be possible to use it.

This situation suggests that NASA should pay to get SpaceX to upgrade the cargo Dragons so that they could always be used as an emergency lifeboat.

NASA requesting proposals for raising Hubble’s orbit

NASA has published a request for proposals from the private commercial space industry for a possible future mission to raise Hubble’s orbit.

NASA published a request for information (RFI) Dec. 22 asking industry how they would demonstrate commercial satellite servicing capabilities by raising the orbit of Hubble. The agency said it is looking for technical information about how a company would carry out the mission, the risks involved and the likelihood of success.

NASA emphasized in the RFI that it had no plans to procure a mission to reboost Hubble. “Partner(s) would be expected to participate and undertake this mission on a no-exchange-of-funds basis,” the document stated, with companies responsible for the cost for the mission.

Apparently, this RFI was issued as a direct result of the agreement between NASA and SpaceX to study a Dragon mission to do exactly this, which in turn was prompted by Jared Isaacman, as part of his private Polaris program of manned Dragon/Starship space flights. I suspect that NASA officials realized that not only were their engineering advantages to getting more proposals, there were probably legal and political reasons for opening the discussion up to the entire commercial space community.

Ideally, a Hubble reboost mission should occur by 2025, though the telescope’s orbit will remain stable into the mid-2030s.

Russians preparing replacement Soyuz for launch to ISS

ISS as of November 28, 2022
ISS after November 28, 2022 docking of unmanned Dragon freighter.
MS-22 is the Soyuz capsule that is leaking.

Though a final decision will not be made until the completion on December 27, 2022 of their investigation into the leak in the coolant system of the Soyuz capsule docked to ISS, the Russians have begun preparing a replacement Soyuz for launch.

A backup spacecraft to bring cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) back to Earth will be prepared by February 19 and the spaceship is currently undergoing tests at the Baikonur spaceport, Roscosmos Chief Yury Borisov said on Monday.

That replacement Soyuz was supposed to launch in March, which means they can only accelerate its preparation by about a month. Assuming it is determined that the leaking capsule cannot be used safely as a lifeboat, this means that until February the station does not have its standard complement of lifeboats.

Should something happen that requires an immediate evacuation before February, it might be possible to get an extra three people into the two Dragon capsules presently docked to ISS, since each was designed to carry a maximum of six passengers, though generally four is considered their maximum capacity.

Dragon freighter docks with ISS

ISS as of November 28, 2022

Capitalism in space: An unmanned Dragon freighter successfully docked with ISS yesterday, bring with it 7,700 pounds of cargo, including two new solar arrays for the station.

Two International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays, or iROSAs, launched aboard SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply mission for the agency and were installed in 2021. These solar panels, which roll out using stored kinetic energy, expand the energy-production capabilities of the space station. The second set launching in the Dragon’s trunk once installed, will be a part of the overall plan to provide a 20% to 30% increase in power for space station research and operations.

These arrays, the second of three packages, will complete the upgrade of half the station’s power channels.

The graphic to the right shows the station as of today, with six different spacecraft docked to six different ports. No wonder there is a significant limit to the number of private missions that can fly to ISS. The needs of the station, as dictated by the international partnership of governments that run it, too often fill those ports.

This limitation will begin changing when Axiom launches its first module for ISS in about two years, followed soon thereafter by the launch of a number of other private independent stations by different American companies.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 successfully launches Dragon freighter to ISS

SpaceX today successfully used its Falcon 9 rocket to launch a Dragon freighter to ISS.

The first stage landed successfully on a drone ship in the Atlantic, completing its first flight, only the third time this year out of 54 total launches that SpaceX had to use a new first stage. All other launches were with reused boosters.

The Dragon freighter is scheduled to dock with ISS at 7:30 am (Eastern) tomorrow.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

54 SpaceX
52 China
19 Russia
9 Rocket Lab
8 ULA

The U.S. now leads China 78 to 52 in the national rankings, but trails the rest of the world combined 81 to 78.

First commercial passenger spacewalk on Dragon will involve depressurizing entire spacecraft

According to an interview to Space.com by the four crew members on next year’s private manned Dragon flight financed by Jared Isaacman, the spacewalk, the first involving commercial passengers, will include all four passengers, since Dragon will not have an airlock and will be depressurized entirely when the hatch opens.

“We’ve collectively taken the position that we’re all going for an EVA,” Isaacman said, adding that the spacecraft cabin is to be depressurized in a hard vacuum. “Whether you’re sticking your head outside, you are doing an EVA. We are contemplating two people on the outside of the vehicle,” Isaacman said, “and two would be inside making sure that everything is going correct.”

To accommodate the spacewalk, this Crew Dragon will not be outfitted with a transparent dome, as was the case for the Inspiration4 mission.

The mission is presenting targeting March ’23 for launch.

Two Saudi passengers to fly on Axiom’s second commercial flight to ISS

According to one NASA official, Axiom now plans on launching two as yet unnamed Saudi passengers on AX-2, its second commercial flight to ISS scheduled to launch in May 2023 on a Dragon capsule.

The names of the two Saudis on the flight have not been released, she said, but that “we are working very hard with them on training already.” A slide for her presentation noted the two would be named after formal approval by the ISS program’s Multilateral Crew Operations Panel. That slide also stated that crew training for the mission started Oct. 17.

The Saudi Space Commission and Axiom Space separately announced Sept. 22 plans to fly two Saudi citizens on a future Axiom Space mission. However, while it was widely rumored the two would fly on Ax-2, neither announcement stated a specific mission. The Saudi statement said that one of the two people would be a woman but did not disclose how the astronauts would be selected.

Neither Axiom nor the Saudis have revealed the ticket price, though it probably runs somewhere in the range of $20 to $50 million per ticket, based on past known purchase prices by NASA and others.

Isaacman’s next private mission to space now scheduled for March ’23

Jared Isaacman’s next private mission on a Dragon capsule, dubbed Polaris Dawn, has now been scheduled for March ’23, during which the first spacewalk by a private citizen will occur.

The mission is planned to last five days, will have a crew of four led by Isaacman, and will also attempt the highest Earth orbit flown by any manned mission. From the mission’s webpage:

At approximately 700 kilometers above the Earth (434 miles), the crew will attempt the first-ever commercial extravehicular activity (EVA) with SpaceX-designed extravehicular activity (EVA) spacesuits, upgraded from the current intravehicular (IVA) suit.

It is not clear if one or all four of the crew members will participate in that spacewalk. At a minimum, all four must be in suits that can work during a spacewalk, since their Dragon capsule does not have an airlock.

The mission will also be used as to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, as was done during Isaacman’s first flight, Inspiration4, in the fall of 2021.

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