Astronaut Miguel López-Alegría returned to space on a solo mission, the first entirely European

The liftoff of Axiom Space's third commercial mission is scheduled for this Wednesday at 11:11 PM (Spanish Peninsular Time). Four crew members will spend two weeks on the International Space Station conducting experiments

At 65, an astronaut Miguel Lopez-Alegria This Wednesday he dons his astronaut suit again for his return to space. He will do so as the third private mission commander for the Axiom space company, which signed him up to lead astronauts who are not part of the space agency. A business plan aimed at getting more people into space.

Now you will be at the forefront of the mission Ax-3, The Axiom was the first to deliver, the crew being entirely European. Italian soldier travels with Lopez-Alegria Walter Villadey, Turkish as a pilot and mission specialist Albert Keseravk (first astronaut from that country) and Sweden Marcus WandAstronaut assigned to the European Space Agency (ESA).

The rocket (Falcon 9) and spacecraft (Dragon) used in this mission also came from a private company, as they were manufactured by Elon Musk's company SpaceX, and are the vehicles used for years to carry the International Space Station (ISS). ) to astronauts from NASA, ESA and Roscosmos. If weather or a recent technical glitch doesn't prevent it, They will leave this Wednesday at 11:11 PM. (Spanish Peninsular Time) two weeks after the ISS launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Spanish flag, in space

Since he retired from NASA (he carried the American flag during his missions), Miguel López-Alegría (born in Madrid of Spanish parents and American citizen) could also carry the Spanish flag into space. He already did it, the first time. In April 2022when Axiom private startup task He commanded, accompanied by Larry Connor, a real estate and technology entrepreneur; Israeli Aidan Stibey, former armed forces pilot, investor and philanthropist and Canadian Mark Bathi, businessman, investor and philanthropist. Due to several delays on the return flight due to weather, they spent 17 days in space, seven days longer than originally planned.

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Axiom's second private mission, Ax-2, will be commanded by a very senior former NASA astronaut in 2023. Becky Whitson, 63 years old. López-Alegría will be in charge of this third mission, during which they will conduct various experiments and studies related to microgravity research and technical demonstrations.

As López-Alegría described during a press conference on January 11, the research they are going to do will help understand the mechanisms behind certain diseases in the human body, such as gravity loss or cancer, and will also include stem cell research.

Although Axiom considers the crew members of its missions to be astronauts, part of the space industry community sees them as space tourists, paying for that experience in space either individually or through various companies or governments.

The crew, in their astronaut suits AXIOM

Thus, the Swede Markus Wand Elected in November 2022 Reserve astronauts from the same ESA promotion, Spaniards Pablo Alvarez (as a regular astronaut of the ESA Corps) and Sara Alvarez, as a reserve astronaut, were selected, as was Wantt. But the Swedish government doesn't want to wait for an opportunity to fly aboard ESA in the future, and has purchased one of the Axiom mission tickets for Wand for an undisclosed sum.

Next April, Pablo Alvarez and other new astronauts in ESA's main body will graduate, bringing their first mission closer. But reservationists like Sarah Alvarez may have to wait longer for the chance to fly as part of a European agency mission.

López-Alegría is one of the most experienced and experienced astronauts internationally., and during his tenure at NASA he broke various records. He is part of a very small group of astronauts and astronauts who have carried out 10 spacewalks.

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