One astronaut has been training since 2009 and there’s still no date set for his launch
A few words about my crew mates in AX-1, who will be flying to the Space Station: Michael López-Alegría, formerly a NASA astronaut and vice-president of Axiom Space, has launched into space four times over 20 years,, and has “spacewalked for over 60 hours; Larry Connor, an American entrepreneur and activist investor in non-profits, also an amateur pilot; Mark Pathy, a Canadian investor and philanthropist, who is going to be the eleventh Canadian astronaut.
Mark and I are together in most courses. We are barely apart. We try to time our lunch breaks so that we can all sit together, the AX-1 crew, including our substitutes. (Each one of us has a substitute so that if the need arises and something happens to one of us, the substitute can fill in the vacated spot).
I met Bob, of the “Bob and Doug” crew, who were the first to fly on the Dragon a year ago. (More on Dragon some other time). He’s easy to spot with his Demo2 shirt. Bob is Robert Behnken and Doug is Douglas Hurley. They are both former military pilots, married to female astronauts. This was the first manned flight on board a private company’s spacecraft - Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It was also the first mission NASA launched into space since 2011, at which time NASA had ceased to launch space shuttles itself.
The second week began with an official meeting between our crew (PAM - Private Astronaut Mission) and all the NASA astronauts. It took place in an auditorium emblazoned with all the seals of the space missions on the walls. Impressive. We arrived sporting our AX1 shirts and each one of us introduced ourselves and our work plan for space. Attending were some 80 listeners, some present and others connected via Zoom. We were given support from NASA management for our participation in the immense space exploration endeavor and for the continued training we are receiving.
A few days ago Mark invited me to join him for dinner with three Canadian astronauts, one has been training since 2009 and two from 2017. They still haven’t been slated for a crew to be launched into space, certainly not before 2024. These super-qualified folks are patiently waiting to be included in one of the crews.
We had a very concise and business-like meeting with the third crew, which will be departing for NASA and the European Space Agency - ESA - at the end of the month - Crew-3. We got to know each other better and heard about their preparations for the approaching launch. Tom, Raja, Mattias and Kayla will be greeting us at the Station and will be with us throughout our entire stay there.
Want to find out about Dragon - the spacecraft that will be flying us out to the Station? - in the next post