Houston-based company Axiom Space and Poland, with support from the European Space Agency (ESA), have signed an agreement to send an ESA astronaut to space on a future Axiom Space mission. The exact mission and name of the Polish astronaut will be officially announced at a later date, following approval by NASA and its international partners.
“Poland will be the second ESA-sponsored nation to send an astronaut on a commercial human spaceflight mission, establishing a growing network of nations in Europe eager to explore the benefits of microgravity and positioning the region as pioneers of commercial space,” said Michael Suffredini, Axiom Space president and CEO. “We are excited to work with Poland and ESA to build a comprehensive mission plan in support of both national and agency objectives, and we look forward to bringing on additional partner nations around the world in an effort to build the human experience in low-Earth orbit.”
The ESA astronaut selected for the mission will focus on scientific research and educational outreach while on orbit. In coordination with ESA, Axiom Space will manage all aspects required for the preparation and completion of the mission, including access to training facilities and instructors, hardware and safety certification, on-orbit management, and post-mission support. As the crew provider, ESA will sign an agreement with Axiom Space to define and implement the mission objectives and prepare for all the operational services needed.
“Cooperation with ESA and Axiom Space is an important step in the development of both the Polish space sector and science,” said Waldemar Buda, Minister of Economic Development and Technology of Poland. “A Polish astronaut will have the opportunity to test the most advanced Polish technologies. For our companies, this is a unique opportunity to gain flight heritage, which will be a proof of the quality of Polish products. The educational aspect is also important for us, as we hope it will result in the interest of many young people in the space sector.”
ESA’s Director General Josef Asbacher praised Poland’s decision to invest funds in not only the ESA astronaut program, but also several other ESA activities. “This reinforced engagement will enable new possibilities for Poland to lift its capabilities in the fast-emerging domain of space,” Asbacher said, “while the cooperation with Axiom Space opens new opportunities for our ESA astronauts.”
In April 2023, Axiom Space and the Swedish National Space Agency signed a letter of intent to send an ESA astronaut to the ISS. Through this agreement, the upcoming Axiom Space mission, Ax-3 now targeting launch in January 2024, will be the first commercial mission to the ISS to include an ESA project astronaut.
Axiom Space is the commercial space industry’s only full-service orbital mission provider, conducting end-to-end crewed missions to the ISS. The expert team at Axiom Space is helping nations and organizations build human spaceflight programs, develop astronaut selection programs, and provide the expertise needed to expand the international community of space explorers to a larger and more diverse representation of humanity.