It’s January 2031, and the International Space Station (ISS) is living its last hours. After thirty years orbiting Earth, the spacecraft, carrying hundreds of astronauts from nineteen countries, was “deserted,” a modest way of saying that it was sent back into the atmosphere to disintegrate.
The 400-ton piece sinks to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean at Nemo Point, the furthest point from any land on Earth. That’s the conclusion of the $150 billion (€135.7 billion) international observatory built by NASA with the help of major European, Russian, Canadian and Japanese agencies.
Still, in the same place, another station will take, but this time it is a completely private installation, designed by the American start-up Axiom Space, which will later be separated from the ISS.
Six years earlier, in 2025, modules from this set would be added to the International Space Station, just like a cuckoo clock, to put the first commercial space station in low orbit 400 kilometers from Earth. Specializing in hotels for tourists and spaces rented out to researchers or companies wishing to conduct scientific experiments in a microgravity environment.
While waiting for this fiction to become a reality, the Houston (Texas) company, in 2022, will carry out the first private mission to the ISS with a few selected customers. Following a contract with NASA. The approval was made easy by the company’s co-founder and director, Michael Saffredini, who worked for the American company for ten years from 2005 to 2015, before launching the ISS program next year. , his start.
Stay for ten days
The second mission began at 5:37 p.m. (11:37 p.m. Paris time) on Sunday, May 21, when a SpaceX Falcon rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the Dragon spacecraft. On board, there will be a crew of four, a former NASA astronaut, a project manager, an American businessman and racing champion who will pilot the shuttle to the ISS, and two Saudi astronauts – one man, one woman – for a ten-day stay. This launch was also done without much publicity like the previous ones. Nothing to do with the enthusiasm of two billionaires, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, who, in the summer of 2021, are competing to be the first to send passengers into space.
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