Houston researchers develop smaller-scale imaging machines

After spending 12 days in space, a historic commercial space mission will return to Earth this week.

Houston-based Axiom Space’s first mission, Axiom mission 1 (Ax-1), which lifted off on April 8 and docked with the International Space Station, announced its plans for undocking and splashdown.

After initial bad weather postponed the process, the four-member private astronaut crew now aims to undock around 9 p.m. tonight, April 19, and then land off the coast of Florida around 2:24 p.m. tomorrow, April 20. Just like the launch, coverage of both events will be available on the Axiom website.

The SpaceX spacecraft mission sent four multinational private astronauts – Commander Michael López-Alegría, Pilot Larry Connor, Mission Specialist Eytan Stibbe and Mission Specialist Mark Pathy – to the ISS to conduct research and familiarize Axiom with launching, docking, etc.

Axiom Space, which hit a $1 billion valuation and joined Houston’s unicorn club last year after a $130 million investment round, is working on the first commercial space station to replace the ISS . The first launch of this mission is scheduled for late 2024. In the meantime, Axiom has a series of commercial launches to the existing station currently in orbit to prepare for the development and orchestration of the Axiom station.

The Ax-1 mission, which provided daily updates, conducted more than 20 research projects and even achieved a few milestones, including:

  • The First-Ever Musical Duo Performance in Space – Commander López-Alegría and neo-classical piano prodigy BLKBOK made music and space history with their piano and keyboard duo
  • The Survey of Aging and Heart Health, a Mayo Clinic Experiment – a study that analyzes human cells for genetic markers of cellular aging and explores the adaptation of heart-like cells to microgravity
  • Observation of transient light events – Specialist Stibbe carried out a space observation experiment and photographed a thunderstorm over Darwin, Australia, to improve understanding of electrical processes in the atmosphere and determine if there is a link to climate change
  • Holoportation System Testing – Mission Specialist Pathy has implemented two-way AI technology that will allow future crew members to explore deep space with the ability to virtually connect with friends, family and doctors so they can get an experience on Earth
  • Several Earthbound outreach calls to STEM students around the world – this included a call to children at Space Center Houston

Axiom is sharing more details about its mission research projects — which cover technologies like future space habitats, cancer research and air-purifying devices on space stations — online.

“As a first step on the path to building a diverse and thriving economy in low Earth orbit, Axiom has partnered with leaders from academia and industry to bring new users and new insights into research. to the space station,” said Christian Maender, director of manufacturing and space research for Axiom Space, in a press release. “The collection of biological and technological tests during the Ax-1 mission represents an array of research that will inform everything from human health considerations to new infrastructure and designs for our future homes away from Earth, beginning with the Axiom station. .”

The crew of four spent 12 days on the ISS. Photo courtesy of NASA

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