On Friday, April 8, 2022, at 11:17 a.m. at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), four astronauts from the private company Axiom Space left the atmosphere. Unlike the flight on July 20, 2021, that flew Jeff Bezos into space for 10 minutes, these astronauts were headed toward the International Space Station (ISS).
The fantastic four that went to the ISS weren’t just any average people. According to the New York Times, the mission included Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe who were led to the ISS by former NASA astronaut, Micheal Lopez-Alegria. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will propel the astronauts on the Dragon Endeavour spacecraft into orbit to reach the International Space Station. Although, once they were at the ISS, the astronauts were scheduled to spend 10 days until they came back down to Earth. For 10 days, the astronauts were conducting scientific research, outreach, and commercial activities, according to NASA.
Aside from getting to the space station and being the first all-private crew on the ISS, there were other behind-the-scenes events that had to happen to get them there. According to The Guardian, there was a slight technical glitch for a monitor that delayed the final approach to the space station. However, it was a quick 45-minute fix then the astronauts were ready to dock and wait another two hours to be sure the walkway connecting the station and capsule was sealed, pressurized, and checked before they could go across. Additionally, one of the astronauts, Eytan Stibbe, became only the second Israeli to fly to space after the first was Ilan Ramon.
This mission is unique primarily because NASA sent private astronauts to space, which is not something they do regularly anymore. According to Astronomy magazine, they stopped sending astronauts to space after the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The main reason they don’t send people to space as regularly anymore is because it is costly and the last few attempts heavily risked safety. After the discontinued space shuttles, if astronauts wanted to go to space, they had to pay to fly on Russian rockets.
Although it took some work to accomplish, NASA successfully sent four astronauts to the International Space Station.