Artistic illustration of Haven-1 with SpaceX Dragon spacecraft docked. Credits: Vast Space

VAST Will Make Its Bid To Send Private Astronauts To The ISS

VAST Space disclosed the plan to buy two Private Astronaut Missions to the International Space Station, competing for the first time with Axiom Space

On February 21, 2024, Max Haot, Chief Operating Officer at VAST Space, exposed the company’s intention to bid for the fifth and sixth Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) opportunities to the International Space Station. The announcement was made during the “Future of the ISS” panel discussion at the 26th Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference.


Private Astronaut Missions, a NASA program to commercialize the ISS

As part of NASA’s strategic goals to “Develop a human spaceflight economy enabled by a commercial market”, the PAM program offers flight opportunities for private companies to use the ISS as a destination for their customers.

To date, only one company has been able to exploit these possibilities: Axiom Space. They already operated three missions, Ax-1, Ax-2, and Ax-3, bringing on the ISS eleven private astronauts (Michael López-Alegría, Axiom Mission Commander, flew in Ax-1 and Ax-3).

A Falcon 9 lifts off on the third PAM to the ISS, Ax-3. Credit: SpaceX.
A Falcon 9 lifts off on the third Private Astronaut Mission to the ISS, Ax-3. Credits: SpaceX

They leveraged the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon capsule for transportation, already used directly by NASA to send astronauts on the ISS.

NASA has already awarded the fourth PAM to Axiom (Ax-4), currently planned for the middle of 2024. The fifth and sixth (end of 2024 and first part of 2025) still have to be assigned, and VAST Space will compete with Axiom to get them.

VAST team members inside the SpaceX Dragon trainer, an illustration. Credits: VAST Space.
VAST team members inside the SpaceX Dragon trainer. Credits: VAST Space


PAM and VAST Space strategy

The Californian company shared with Axiom the main reason for running these missions, rather than the income: to get experience in spaceflight and ISS operations and apply it to their future space stations.

“From our point of view, it will make us a better space station builder, a better partner of NASA, and it will help us practice many of the disciplines we are building.”

— Max Haot, VAST Space CEO

The current NASA schedule is to open the two PAM opportunities for late 2024 and the first half of 2025, in time to provide precious information for VAST’s next strategic steps. Haven-1, the first independent space station built by the company, should reach Low Earth Orbit by August 2025 using a SpaceX Falcon9. VAST-1, a SpaceX Crew Dragon mission, will be scheduled just after, bringing four astronauts to this new space destination.


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Giancarlo Albertinazzi

Giancarlo Albertinazzi

Space Ambassador, Terranaut, Future Spacepolitan, Writer of Becoming Spacepolitans Blog

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