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SpaceX In Deal With Axiom Space To Fly Tourists To Space Station In 2021

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SpaceX, owned by Tesla founder Elon Musk, said it signed a deal with Texas-based startup Axiom Space to fly private astronauts to International Space Station in 2021.

In the first mission under the deal, the flight on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft will include three tourists and a flight commander.

The crew will be selected and trained by Axiom, while SpaceX will be a transportation provider for the Axiom mission with its Crew Dragon, a fully-autonomous, gumdrop-shaped capsule.

Axiom's first mission is expected to launch as soon as the second half of 2021. The 10-day mission would allow the passengers to spend at least eight days in the ISS, with two days of travelling.

According to Axiom, the first-ever fully private flight to ISS will also include training, mission planning, hardware development, life support, medical support, on-orbit operations and overall mission management, among others.

In a statement, Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said, "This history-making flight will represent a watershed moment in the march toward universal and routine access to space. This will be just the first of many missions to ISS to be completely crewed and managed by Axiom Space - a first for a commercial entity. Procuring the transportation marks significant progress toward that goal."

Suffredini had served as manager of NASA's International Space Station program from 2005 to 2015.

Going forward, Axiom expects to offer both professional and private flights to the space station.

SpaceX, which currently supplies cargo to ISS, in February signed a deal with Space Adventures to fly up to four passengers on a five-day trip to orbit Earth in late 2021. Space Adventures earlier had arranged eight trips to the ISS between 2001 and 2009 for private travelers on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin are also developing vehicles for space tourism.

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