“We can finally open our doors to private individuals and enable others to experience the magic of living and working in space,” said Dana Weigel, assistant manager of the space station at NASA. “The dream really is to give everyone access to space, and this is a pretty exciting place to start.”
The producers of Discovery’s “Who Wants to Be an Astronaut?” Expect the winner to be on board the second Axiom mission to the space station, which could launch six or seven months after the first. Currently, an agreement between the Discovery team and Axiom is pending, and NASA has not yet selected Axiom to conduct the second private space tourism flight.
The NASA-led portion of the station could host two private astronaut missions a year, space agency officials said, and other companies are interested in participating as well.
“We see great interest in private astronaut missions, also outside of Axiom,” said Ms. Weigel. “At this point, the demand exceeds what we actually think is possible.”
As recently as Tuesday, Axiom announced two people would be in the seats for this second mission: Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut who now works for Axiom, will be the commander, and John Shoffner, a paying passenger, will be Fortune made as the head of a company that makes fiber optic cables will serve as the pilot for the mission.
Dr. Whitson, who holds the record for the most cumulative time in space by a NASA astronaut – 665 days – joined Axiom as a consultant a year ago in hopes of getting back into space and expanding her record. “Yes, definitely,” she said. “That was the carrot.”
Mr Peterson said the plans for the Discovery show came from talks with Axiom in early 2020 and would be “premium documentary” rather than “survivor” or other ruthless reality television competitions.