NASA and American space infrastructure developer Axiom Space have signed a pact for the second private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, to take place in the second quarter of 2023.

The spaceflight, designated as Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2), will launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and travel to the space station.

Once docked, the Axiom astronauts are scheduled to spend 10 days aboard the orbiting laboratory.

"With each new step forward, we are working together with commercial space companies and growing the economy in low-Earth orbit," said Phil McAlister, director of commercial space at NASA Headquarters.

Axiom Space
Axiom SpaceIANS

"In addition to expanding access to orbit for more people, we are also hoping these private astronaut missions will help the industry learn and develop the skillset to conduct such missions," he added.

NASA and Axiom mission planners will coordinate in-orbit activities for the private astronauts to conduct in coordination with space station crew members and flight controllers on the ground, the space agency said in a statement.

"Axiom continues to fund and fly private astronaut missions to the International Space Station to build our expertise and attract new customers in preparation for the launch of our space station, Axiom Station," said Derek Hassmann, Axiom's chief of Mission Integration and Operations.

International Space Station
International Space StationNASA

The Ax-2 crew members will train for their flight with NASA, international partners, and SpaceX, which Axiom has contracted as launch provider for transportation to and from the space station.

In December 2021, NASA announced the selection of Axiom Space for negotiations for the second private astronaut mission.