In April, the private astronauts who spent two weeks on the International Space Station said they tried to pack too much into their schedules while on the station, putting a strain on both themselves and the professional astronauts there.
At a May 13 news conference, the four people who flew on Axiom Space’s Ax-1 charge to the station said that while they had an excellent trip to the station, they overestimated how vital work they could get done after their appearance at the ISS on April 9 for what was initially listed to be an eight-day stay.
“Our timeline was truly aggressive, especially beforehand in the charge,” said Michael López-Alegría, the former NASA astronaut and current Axiom hand commanded Ax-1. “ The pace was wild in the morning.”
“With the value of hindsight, we were way too aggressive on our schedule, in particular the first couple days,” said Larry Connor, one of the three guests who accompanied López-Alegría on Ax-1. He illustrated one trial that was listed to take two and a half hours to complete predicated on preflight training but ended up taking five hours.
López-Alegría thanked the four Crew-3 astronauts from NASA and the European Space Agency who were on the station during their visit for backing, calling them “ extraordinarily helpful, gracious, kind, sharing” during their stay. “I ca n’t say enough good goods about them, and we really demanded them.”
That had an impact on the Crew-3 astronauts’ enjoyed work schedule. During a May 12 meeting of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, Susan Helms, a former NASA astronaut who serves on the panel, said the Ax-1 visit posed “ no apparent overt safety issues” but that it did affect the performance of the astronauts.
“There were some real- time dynamics related to the flight crew timelines with the addition of these four Axiom help, who did have their own flight objects,” she said. “ In substance, the appearance of the Axiom help sounded to have a larger-than- anticipated impact on the quotidian workload on the professional International Space Station crew.”
While the Ax-1 charge did allow for some new wisdom and the capability to transport some NASA weight back to Earth, “ there was also some occasion cost in the form of excessively stressing the workload of the onboard ISS members and the charge controllers who support them on the ground,” Helms said. She recommended that future private astronaut operations be managed in “ formalized processes” that integrate them into overall ISS exertion.
“It’s competitor on us to reduce our burden on the crew,” said Michael Suffredini, president and top supervisor of Axiom Space, at the news conference, saying that was part of “ assignments learned” exchanges with NASA and SpaceX that will inform future operations to the station. “ Over time, we ’ll reduce what the crew has to do.”
Reducing that burden is stretching out the work over a more extended stay. The Layoff-1 charge ended up spending further than 15 days at the ISS instead of the original eight days because of inimical downfall conditions at levee spots off the Florida coast.
“It was a blessing to have the spare time,” López-Alegría said. “ I suppose we were so focused on disquisition and outreach in the first 8 or 10 days on route that we demanded the spare time to complete the experience by having time to look out the window, to make contact with buddies and family, to just enjoy the sensation.”
Suffredini said longer operations would have to fit into a busy schedule on the ISS and address issues analogous to goods on the life support system of having 11 people there for an extended period. He still noted that Axiom has planned 30- day operations to the station and would like to go as long as 60 days.
“This flight was reallyMadly successful, ” he said. “ From our perspective, we will go be a little more effective, train a little additional, do a numerous goods to help out the timeline.”
He added the company had sold three seats on future operations since Ax-1, which included an agreement announced April 29 with the United Arab Emirates to fly an Emirati astronaut on a long-duration charge using a seat handed by NASA in exchange for a Soyuz seat Axiom had previously bought from Roscosmos. He declined to expose the other guests who signed up.