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Earth from space. Photo: NASA

An American entrepreneur, Canadian investor and Israeli investor, along with a former NASA astronaut, are set to make up the first fully private mission to the International Space Station.

Why it matters: The flight — expected to launch in January 2022 — represents part of NASA's bid to create an economy in low-Earth orbit supported by private companies.

What's happening: The mission will be the first crewed flight for Axiom Space — a company that plans to one day build a private space station in orbit.

  • Axiom officially revealed the names of all of their crewmembers Tuesday. Former astronaut Michael López-Alegría will serve as the commander, Larry Connor will be the mission's pilot, and Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe will be mission specialists.
  • The four crewmembers will spend about eight days on the space station, where they plan to participate in research projects, according to Axiom.
  • The crew is expected to fly to the space station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon. A ticket to fly with Axiom costs about $55 million.
“We sought to put together a crew for this historic mission that had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the people on Earth, and I’m glad to say we’ve done that with this group
— Axiom Space CEO Michael Suffredini said in a statement

The big picture: NASA one day wants to become a buyer of services in orbit, not the sole provider. Missions like this one from Axiom could be a step along the way to prove out what kind of market exists.

Go deeper: Meet the people paying $55 million each to fly to the space station (Washington Post)

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 26, 2021 - Science

What to know about the Moon rock in Biden's Oval Office

The Moon rock now in the Oval Office. Photo: NASA

President Joe Biden hasn't revealed much about his space policy priorities yet, but space fans can take heart that space is on his mind, thanks to an Apollo Moon rock that now decorates the Oval Office.

Why it matters: The Moon rock — loaned to the White House by NASA — is on display "in symbolic recognition of earlier generations’ ambitions and accomplishments, and support for America’s current Moon to Mars exploration approach," according to a statement from NASA.

59 mins ago - Health

Florida records most new daily COVID cases in state since pandemic began

Nurses bring a portable x-ray machine to a treatment tent outside the emergency department at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, set up to serve as an overflow area as the number of COVID-19 infections surges throughout Brevard County. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida reported 21,683 new COVID-19 cases — the most in the state in a single day since the pandemic began, per data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.

The big picture: Florida is now the U.S. coronavirus epicenter, with the Delta variant driving a surge, Axios Tampa Bay's Ben Montgomery notes.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

Chart: Less than 0.1% of vaccinated Americans tested positive for COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC and state Covid dashboards. Dani Alberti/Axios

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, around 125,000 people have tested positive for breakthrough infections and 0.001% have died, according to state data compiled from state dashboards by NBC and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While "breakthrough cases" have been getting media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.