NASA asks ‘pre-flight’ astronauts to lead all private missions to the ISS

NASA this week updated its policy on private astronaut missions (PAM) to the International Space Station, following “lessons learned” from Axiom’s Ax-1 mission in April.

The new rules aim to improve passenger safety and reduce stress on existing operations by clarifying the code of conduct for private astronauts, as well as adjusting requirements for sleep and sanitation facilities, medical support and microgravity acclimation.

A condition still being resolved states that all future PAMs “include a former NASA (U.S.) government astronaut as a mission commander” who can “provide an experienced private astronaut through mission execution during preflight preparation.” guide” According to agency notification(opens in new window) Posted on Monday.

“Based on their past in-orbit and NASA experience,” the notice explained, “PAM commanders provide a link between resident ISS expeditions and private astronauts and reduce risks to ISS operations and PAM/ISS safety.”

Due to a two-day delay on NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar rocket, the first all-private space station mission successfully launched on April 8, carrying four civilians on a 10-day mission that included aboard the International Space Station 8 days of scientific research, promotion and commercial activities. Former NASA astronaut and commander Michael López-Alegría with pilot Larry Connor and mission experts Eytan Stibbe and Mark Patti (Mark Pathy) went on the journey of a lifetime together.

“First of all, it’s clear that customers really don’t want to fly with people they haven’t done before,” López-Alegría said recently at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference. According to Space News(opens in new window)“Secondly, NASA is much more comfortable having someone who’s been there before.”

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The Ax-1 mission did highlight some deficiencies: According to interviews with the crew after returning to Earth, the over-scheduled schedule clearly put a strain on everyone present. Such a tight schedule — 25 experiments and 30 outreach activities in eight days — may have contributed to NASA’s decision to increase personal “acclimatization time” requirements when arriving at the ISS. “NASA will require additional time for microgravity acclimatization and handover activities prior to primary mission activities,” the notice states.

Axiom’s second mission — the only other NASA-approved PAM — will be led by Peggy Whitson.Whitson became the first female astronaut to command the International Space Station twice, and break records(opens in new window) The longest single spaceflight by a woman in orbit at 289 days (subsequently Christina Koch’s 328 Days of Travel(opens in new window)).

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