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NASA says retired astronauts must act as sherpas on private flights to the ISS ‣

NASA will quickly require a retired astronaut to serve as mission commander on all private flights to the Worldwide House Station, in accordance to an company posted at this time. The coverage — which has but to be finalized — is meant to each enhance passenger security and cut back any pressure on current ISS operations. The previous astronaut would supply “skilled steerage for the private astronauts throughout pre-flight preparation by mission execution.” A variety of adjustments additionally impression house vacationers themselves, together with new medical requirements for private astronauts, extra lead time for private analysis tasks, adjustments to the coverage for return cargo and extra time for private astronauts to regulate to microgravity.

In accordance to the discover, the new adjustments had been a results of “classes discovered” on final April’s Axiom House flight, the place passengers paid $55 million every to fly on the first private astronaut mission to the ISS. The hectic, two-week journey — the place passengers additionally labored on their very own analysis — took a toll on each the ISS crew and the Axiom crew themselves, in accordance to with astronauts following the mission’s return.

The Ax-1 mission truly had a former NASA astronaut at its helm — Michael López-Alegría, who at the moment is the Chief Astronaut at Axiom. The corporate was contemplating crewing future missions and not using a skilled astronaut on board as that might liberate house for an additional (paying) passenger on board, Axiom president Michael Suffredini mentioned at a press convention earlier this yr. The brand new coverage by NASA is probably going an effort to forestall such unsupervised missions.

Succesful astronauts aren’t precisely a dime a dozen. At the moment, there are properly over 200 NASA astronauts, in accordance to the company’s web site — although it’s unclear what number of could be keen to command future missions or meet the medical necessities. NASA itself is in the center of an astronaut scarcity — its of 44 astronauts is the smallest since the Seventies. An company report from January mentioned a scarcity of working NASA astronauts might complicate future missions to the ISS and the moon.

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