• SpaceX finalized a new partnership with commercial space company Axiom
  • SpaceX will transport Axiom's astronauts to the ISS next year
  • The upcoming mission is a huge step for the commercial spaceflight industry

Private space firm Axiom has finalized a new deal with SpaceX to transport its private astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The commercial mission is expected to take place during the second half of 2021.

Axiom is a private space firm based in Texas. Co-founded by NASA’s former ISS program manager, the company is looking to manufacture the first commercial space station.

As part of its goal in achieving commercial spaceflight, Axiom recently partnered with SpaceX for a fully private mission to the ISS. According to a press release by Axiom, the mission is scheduled to take place next year and will feature three private astronauts and a commander trained by the company.

The identities of the upcoming expedition’s crew members have not yet been revealed, but according to Axiom, the mission commander will undergo training similar to that of NASA astronauts. The commander, along with the three other astronauts, will spend a total of eight days aboard the ISS.

Axiom stated that its upcoming mission to the ISS will not focus on conducting scientific experiments. Instead, it will involve carrying out activities organized by the company.

Axiom has not yet released details regarding the cost of its partnership with SpaceX or the type of facilities the latter will provide as part of the deal. But for the upcoming crewed mission, SpaceX will most likely turn to its Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft to transport the astronauts.

As noted by SpaceX, its new partnership with Axiom is the latest step in establishing the commercial spaceflight industry. Although the company has various spaceflight contracts with NASA, the upcoming mission with Axiom will be an entirely private expedition to space.

“Since 2012, SpaceX has been delivering cargo to the International Space Station in partnership with NASA and later this year, we will fly NASA astronauts for the first time,” Gwynne Shotwell, the COO and president of SpaceX said in a press release.

“Now, thanks to Axiom and their support from NASA, privately crewed missions will have unprecedented access to the space station, furthering the commercialization of space and helping usher in a new era of human exploration,” she added.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Docking to ISS
This artist illustration shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docking to the International Space Station. SpaceX is one of two American companies working with NASA to design, build, test and operate safe, reliable and cost-effective human transportation systems, restoring the nation’s human launch capability to and from the station. SpaceX/ Public Domain