KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), January 11, 2024 – When Axiom Space’s third private astronaut mission, Ax-3, launches to the space station, it will carry an all-European crew of astronauts and dozens of investigations sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory. Many of these investigations will test technology that could be valuable for future long-duration spaceflight. The mission, which is slated to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida no earlier than Wednesday, January 17, at 5:11 p.m. EST, will help expand a new era of private utilization of the orbital laboratory and advance technological innovations for the benefit of humanity.
The Ax-3 crew includes Axiom Space’s chief astronaut and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría (commander); Walter Villadei of Italy (pilot); Alper Gezeravcı of Türkiye (mission specialist); and European Space Agency (ESA) project astronaut Marcus Wandt of Sweden (mission specialist). During the two-week mission, the crew will conduct more than 30 experiments, including several to test materials and technology to protect space travelers from radiation and other harsh conditions in space.
Here are highlights of some of the technology development investigations launching on the Ax-3 mission:
- A project in partnership with Italian race car company Dallara aims to take aerospace materials to the next level by evaluating how effective various advanced materials are at withstanding radiation during spaceflight. Acute radiation in the space environment can degrade solid materials over time, compromising the functionality of satellites and spacecraft. The materials being tested in the radiation-shielding textiles investigation could be used for future space stations, spacecraft, and even spacesuits.
- Through a collaboration with the Italian government and commercial industry, Ax-3 crew members will test the Smart Flight Suit 2. This innovative suit is certified by NASA to collect valuable medical data on astronauts, such as temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Built to be a blend of comfort and functionality, the suit is designed with next-generation fabrics that make it breathable, while meeting the strict requirements of NASA to protect astronauts during spaceflight.
- In an investigation from the Italian Space Agency, the Ax-3 crew will test a software upgrade to the Anomalous Long-Term Effects in Astronauts (ALTEA) radiation detector currently onboard the space station. The crew will also reorient the Light Ion Detector (LIDAL) hardware in ALTEA that provides more comprehensive insights into the radiation environment on the orbiting laboratory. With LIDAL, ALTEA can be used to determine in real time the amount of ionizing radiation being absorbed by space station crew members. This represents the first real-time radiation “risk meter” in a space habitat. The system could also be used on future exploration missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
Download the high-resolution image for this release: Axiom-2 Launch
# # #
About the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Laboratory® allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve quality of life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology, and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space™ (CASIS™) manages the ISS National Lab, under Cooperative Agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit our website.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, CASIS accepts corporate and individual donations to help advance science in space for the benefit of humanity. For more information, visit our donations page.
About Axiom Space: Axiom Space is building for beyond, guided by the vision of a thriving home in space that benefits every human, everywhere. The leading provider of human spaceflight services and developer of human-rated space infrastructure, Axiom Space operates end-to-end missions to the International Space Station today while developing its successor, Axiom Station – the world’s first commercial space station in low-Earth orbit, which will sustain human growth off the planet and bring untold benefits back home. For more information visit Axiom Space’s website.