Ax-3 Mission: What Is It And How Are We Contributing

17 January 2024

Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) is the first all-European commercial astronaut mission to the International Space Station, representing a ground-breaking shift in access to low-Earth orbit for nations worldwide. This mission signifies a transformative opportunity for countries to participate in the global space community and leverage low-Earth orbit for advancing exploration and microgravity research.

Axiom Space’s crew of four astronauts will conduct more than 30 different experiments while aboard the space station. The data collected, both pre- and post-mission on Earth and in-flight, promises to significantly contribute to the comprehension of human physiology in both terrestrial and orbital environments.

Marcus Wandt will serve as mission specialist under the command of Michael Lopez-Alegria, Axiom Space’s chief astronaut, representing both the USA and Spain as a dual-citizen. The other two Ax-3 crew members are Walter Villadei, an Italian Air Force colonel and pilot for the mission, and Mission Specialist Alper Gezeravci from Türkiye.

Marcus Wandt in his spacesuit ©SpaceX

Ax-3 will be the first commercial human spaceflight mission with an ESA-sponsored astronaut. Marcus’s mission, called Muninn, is supported by ESA and the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA). Marcus Wandt started intensive training for his mission in June 2023 and we have contributed to his training since then.

1. The Training for Space

Marcus Wandt started intensive training for his mission last summer. Lessons on payloads and simulators take place in training facilities and space centres around the world. Each partner is in charge of training astronauts on the elements that they contribute to the ISS.

In Europe, Marcus's training focuses on the Columbus module systems and experiments integral to his Muninn mission. With dedicated focus, he has invested over 100 hours to attain full qualification in operating, monitoring, and maintaining both Columbus and its associated experiments.

All this training occurs at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, a hub where numerous colleagues are actively engaged in the preparation and execution of astronaut training programs.

2. Telespazio Germany's contribution

Telespazio Germany plays a crucial role in astronaut training for the upcoming Axiom-3 Mission, from being the interface between astronauts, flight control, user support, and space medicine experts during operations to supporting Marcus' onboard activities during the mission.

Kate Kapler managed the coordination of astronaut training schedules, ensuring that instructors were assigned, facilities were available, and the astronaut received necessary materials in advance.

Anna Rita Donnarumma shared her expertise in training astronaut Marcus Wandt on two experiments: FSL/SMD and EDR/EML. The Soft Matter Dynamic (SMD) experiment in the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) explores wet foams, granules, and emulsions. Marcus is trained in sample cell unit exchange and experiment container installation. Additionally, the Electro Magnetic Levitator (EML) in the European Drawer Rack (EDR) facilitates material research. Marcus received training on tasks such as sample chamber exchange and operating the High-Speed Camera Lever.

Frank Salmen trained him on the Fluidics and the Plasma Kristal -which looks in the creation and behaviour of plasma crystals in microgravity- experiments, as well as in the handling of the LUNINA and AstroBit hardware. Matt Day also collaborated with instructors to train the astronaut on various subjects and locations and Andreas Lundt will provide real-time support as EUROCOM, acting as the interface between the astronaut, flight control, user support, and space medicine experts during operations.

 

Marcus in his training ©ESA–P. Sebirot

Arjan Kramer and Pascaline Kerbeci address the DOSIS 3D Active Radiation Detector Main Box anomaly experienced last year. After unsuccessful ground troubleshooting, the main box was repaired and will be installed by Marcus during Axiom-3. DOSIS, one of ESA’s most successful payloads, has been monitoring ISS radiation for a decade. Arjan and Pascaline, as Ops Leads, support Marcus during the installation, addressing crew calls and troubleshooting.

Anna Krassnigg takes part in the Ground activities in support of the Axiom-3 mission, including the preparation of the onboard training material for Marcus as well as the planning of the crew activity. Also, she supports the facility conditioning activities on console, which are prerequisites for the calibration cartridge Marcus shall install in the Furnace Calibration Cartridge (FCC) inside the Material Sciences Laboratory (MSL) facility in the NASA Lab Module.

The collective efforts demonstrate Telespazio Germany's commitment to astronaut training and mission success. Thank you to all our colleagues and partners collaborating in this mission and the best of luck for the launch today, 17 January 2024, no earlier than 23:11 CET (22:11 GMT).

Other News & Stories

20.02.2024
ERS-2 Satellite will Re-enter Earth’s Atmosphere Tomorrow.

ERS-2 is the satellite that revolutionized our perspective of the planet and our understanding of climate change. This extraordinary mission laid the groundwork for many of the current satellites and ESA's position at the forefront of Earth observation.

17.10.2023
Telespazio Germany and Reflex Aerospace: Advancing Germany’s Space Capabilities

A ‘Made in Germany’ cooperation between Telespazio Germany and Reflex Aerospace will integrate the offerings of both companies into an end-to-end satellite solution.

16.10.2023
Telespazio Germany joins the EAMTC – European Aviation Maintenance Training Committee

The EAMTC is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on improving the quality and standardisation of European aviation maintenance training.

20.02.2024
ERS-2 Satellite will Re-enter Earth’s Atmosphere Tomorrow.

ERS-2 is the satellite that revolutionized our perspective of the planet and our understanding of climate change. This extraordinary mission laid the groundwork for many of the current satellites and ESA's position at the forefront of Earth observation.

17.10.2023
Telespazio Germany and Reflex Aerospace: Advancing Germany’s Space Capabilities

A ‘Made in Germany’ cooperation between Telespazio Germany and Reflex Aerospace will integrate the offerings of both companies into an end-to-end satellite solution.

16.10.2023
Telespazio Germany joins the EAMTC – European Aviation Maintenance Training Committee

The EAMTC is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on improving the quality and standardisation of European aviation maintenance training.