London, 14 September 2023.- ESA announced on the 12th of September that project astronaut Marcus Wandt from Sweden will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) on Axiom Mission 3 (AX-3) no earlier than January 2024.
Axiom Space announced the four crew members who will spend up to 14 days on board the ISS during the mission. Wandt will serve as mission specialist under the command of Michael López-Alegría, Axiom Space’s chief astronaut, representing both the USA and Spain.
Ax-3 will be the first commercial human spaceflight mission with an ESA-sponsored astronaut. Wandt’s mission, Muninn, is supported by ESA and the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA).
The other two Ax-3 crew members are Walter Villadei, an Italian Air Force colonel and pilot, and Alper Gezeravci, mission specialist from Turkey. Wandt, Villadei, and Gezeravci have extensive flight experience and all served in their nation’s air forces. Wandt worked as a test and fighter pilot for the Swedish Air Force.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Ax-3 crew on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. Once docked with the orbital laboratory, Wandt will spend up to 14 days conducting microgravity research and educational activities.
“With Marcus, Europe is teaming for the first time with a commercial space company to implement an astronaut flight to the International Space Station. ESA is supporting its Member States to show how fast-track, short-duration missions can generate good science, outreach and education in support of STEM and benefits for life on Earth,” says Frank De Winne, ESA’s ISS Programme Manager.
The Swedish astronaut is currently following a training programme to live and work in space taking place in Europe, USA, Canada, and Japan.