In 2019, NASA kicked off a strategy to enable a vibrant low Earth orbit economy which included offering flight opportunities for commercial providers to utilize the International Space Station (ISS) as a destination for private astronaut missions. Private astronaut missions to the ISS would be pathfinders to demonstrate and stimulate demand for future commercial destinations. Enabling private astronaut missions to the ISS could also potentially increase the US crew vehicle transportation customer base which could drive down transportation costs for the future.
Benefits of private astronaut missions to the ISS:
Allows commercial industry the ability to gain insight into the costs associated with owning and operating a future commercial low Earth orbit economy destinations
Reduces market risk to commercial low Earth orbit economy destination developers by demonstrating the market (i.e. non-government human missions to low Earth orbit economy are a key market element for future commercial low Earth orbit economy destinations)
Expands range of commercial activities that can be performed on ISS
Potential to increase flight rate and reduce costs for access to low Earth orbit economy
For news releases and announcements related to private astronaut missions, see our Latest News page.
NASA, Partners Clear Axiom Space’s Third Private Astronaut Crew
NASA and its international partners approved the crew for Axiom Space’s third private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, launching from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida no earlier than January 2024.
The crew of Axiom Mission 3, from left to right: Axiom Space’s chief astronaut and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría will serve as commander. Italian Air Force Col. Walter Villadei will serve as pilot. The two mission specialists are Alper Gezeravci of Turkey and ESA (European Space Agency) project astronaut Marcus Wandt of Sweden.
Imagery Courtesy of Axiom Space
A Future in Orbit
NASA’s investment in low Earth orbit has launched a commercial economy in space. See how the private sector will expand the economic sphere with commercial cargo to space, commercial spaceflights, and commercial destinations in orbit, and how it will enable NASA to be one of many customers and advance human space exploration.
Axiom Space Selected for Another Private Space Mission in 2024
NASA and Axiom Space have signed an order for the fourth private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, targeted to launch no earlier than August 2024.
Axiom Mission 2 Departure from Station
NASA Sets Coverage for Axiom Mission 2 Departure from Space Station.
Axiom Space Private Astronauts Headed to Station
Four private astronauts are in orbit following the successful launch of Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), the second all private astronaut mission to the International Space Station.
Axiom Mission 2 Briefings, Events, Broadcast
NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), the second private astronaut mission to the International Space Station.
Media Updated on Next Private Astronaut Mission
NASA experts join a virtual press conference hosted by Axiom Space to preview the launch of Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) to the International Space Station.
Axiom Space Selected for Third Private Astronaut Station Mission
NASA and Axiom Space have signed a mission order for the third private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, targeted to launch no earlier than November 2023.
NASA, Partners Clear Axiom’s Second Private Astronaut Mission Crew
NASA and its international partners have approved the crew for Axiom Space’s second private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2).
NASA Enables Commercial Crew, Private Astronaut Missions
NASA’s efforts and investments, especially with the Commercial Crew Program, have enabled activity in low Earth orbit.
Private Astronaut Mission Pricing Policy
NASA has outlined a broad strategy to facilitate the commercialization of low Earth orbit by U.S. companies, and will enable private astronaut missions to the International Space Station as part of that strategy.