UKSA and Axiom Space Plan Historic British-Crewed Mission26th Oct 2023
A crew from the United Kingdom could head to space on an Axiom Space mission with a new agreement in place between the UK Space Agency and the American private space company.
This would be the first all-British mission to space, and under the proposals unveiled this week, the astronauts could spend up to two weeks in space carrying out research, demonstrating new technologies, and even using the opportunity to participate in educational activities.
Government asks for research ideas
In interesting news for the UK space industry, Axiom Space and the UK Space Agency called for suggestions and ideas for technology demonstrations and even experiments that can be carried out on the mission.
George Freeman, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, spoke about the mission:
“The prospect of a historic UK mission with Axiom Space has the potential to inspire a whole new generation to reach for the stars, while supporting our efforts to build one of the most innovative and attractive space economies in the world.”
A spokesperson from Axiom told us that “Axiom Space is looking forward to working with the UK Space Agency on a future human spaceflight mission. With this agreement as the initial foundation, we will work to build a comprehensive mission plan in support of the UK’s national and agency objectives to advance its capabilities in space exploration and discovery. Together, we will look to harness the benefits of microgravity and help push the boundaries of innovation to advance our civilization.”
Axiom Space launch date, crew and other details of the mission
Despite rumours, Axiom were unable to confirm whether Tim Peake would be involved: “We’re at the mission concept stage, making it too early to speculate on crew members.”
Axiom Space is currently the only full-service orbital mission provider in the commercial space industry, and they conduct end-to-end crewed missions to the ISS, though part of this proposal includes planning for a post-ISS era.
Daniel Neuenschwander of the ESA, gave the organisation’s take on the mission: “ESA is working on Europe’s preparation of the post-ISS era and the development of a sustainable commercial space economy in Low Earth Orbit. This unique flight will allow ESA to enhance its actions with new partnership schemes and implement together with the United Kingdom a series of research experiments, which will further deepen the knowledge on exploration in and for Europe.”
The launch date and other mission details remain unknown at this stage. Axiom Space were also keen to point out that there is a lot of work to do to agree on the details of any future mission, so this can be considered an agreement in principle rather than a firm mission plan.