Allow me to reintroduce you to Axiom Space, a private company that intends to start launching private missions to the International Space Station in late 2021 or early '22. We talked about them earlier in the year (March). They will sell training for private astronauts to make the trip and help them do whatever mission they want to carry out. In the longer term, they intend to build a private replacement for the ISS starting in early '24. Which is necessary because the ISS has been inhabited continually for 20 years and is reaching end of life in some areas. Back in that piece last March, I noted:
It's worth noting that the ISS is only planned to be in service through 2024 and there are already plans to decommission and deorbit the $100 Billion dollar habitat. NASA officials are hoping to maintain funding through 2028; that would be 30 years after the first modules were placed on orbit. That pretty much guarantees that the annual maintenance costs for the ISS are going up (I have a 40 year old house - DAMHIK).SpaceX news site Teslarati reports that the first Axiom flight will reuse the Demo-1 capsule flown last May through August. Tentative launch date is the fourth quarter of '21. The mission to the ISS will be commanded by former NASA astronaut Mike Lopez-Algeria and will carry three other private astronauts, including Israeli multimillionaire Eytan Stibbe.
Thanks to the relentless innovation that SpaceX does, we're in a period unlike the previous ten or twenty years and more like the early days of the space program. The current first regular mission (i.e., not a demo) to the ISS on a SpaceX capsule, Crew-1, is slated to return in six months, or May of 2021. Until the 63-day Demo-2 mission, only one US manned spacecraft had ever stayed in space that long; the US record for a crewed spacecraft is 84 days. Crew-1 will easily double that record - it will be in space around 180 days. Several Russian spacecraft have decades of experience spending at least several months at a time in orbit. As the first US crewed spacecraft to spend that much time on orbit, you can be sure Crew-1 will be examined closer than any other spacecraft in ages.
God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be leading the Ax-1 crew on the first purely commercial orbital mission in history a little over a year from now – on this very SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. It’s gonna be a #Blast ! pic.twitter.com/RL0bqbiWQz— Michael L-A (@CommanderMLA) November 16, 2020
But wait, it gets better.
The Demo-2 Crew Dragon capsule is currently scheduled to fly a second time as early as March 31st, 2021 on SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission, ferrying another four astronauts to the ISS. If successful, Crew-2 will represent the first commercial astronaut launch ever to reuse both an orbital-class rocket booster and an orbital spacecraft, and the NASA-overseen process of refurbishment and re-flight will thus pave the way for future flight-proven astronaut launches. That includes private company Axiom Space’s first private AX-1 astronaut launch, which is currently scheduled to launch as early as Q4 2021. [Bold added - SiG]In that bolded sentence, strike the word "commercial." It will be the first launch by anyone to reuse both an orbital-class booster and an orbital spacecraft.
Axiom's vision of their own space station. Older articles talk about them launching a lab that can be docked to the ISS and provide facilities for the private astronauts they want to put up there. The current website implies that "Axiom Hub One" (crew quarters, + research and manufacturing capability) appears to be what they want to launch first to get their own station started.