In April of this year, Axiom Space conducted the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Axiom Mission-1 (Ax-1). The mission, in conjunction with NASA and working closely with the ISS National Laboratory, provided a historic and exciting opportunity to open further access to space. Axiom Space chief astronaut Michael López-Alegría commanded that extraordinary mission and will share his experiences through this journey at the 11th annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC).

In his keynote address, López-Alegría will discuss the expanding space market and how private astronaut missions like those supported by Axiom Space are providing new avenues to leverage the unique conditions available in low Earth orbit (LEO).

López-Alegría, or “L-A” as he is known in the space community, is a decorated former NASA astronaut selected for training in 1992. During his NASA career, López-Alegría was a crew member on four spaceflight missions to LEO, helping to assemble the ISS and further scientific knowledge in space. He also served as ISS commander during his final NASA mission, ISS Expedition 14. López-Alegría holds the all-time American records for number of spacewalks (10) and total spacewalk duration (67 hours and 40 minutes). A Naval aviator and test pilot prior to joining the NASA astronaut corps, he retired from the space agency in 2012.

Upon leaving NASA, López-Alegría served as the president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, advocating for favorable public policy on building commerce in space for a burgeoning LEO economy. He joined Axiom Space in 2016 and presently serves as the company’s chief astronaut. Earlier this year, López-Alegría launched on his fifth space mission, leading his Axiom crew mates to the orbiting laboratory onboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as part the first privately funded crewed mission to the ISS. The Ax-1 astronauts spent 17 days in space and conducted dozens of experiments facilitated by the ISS National Lab that sought to bring value to all humanity.

ISSRDC is hosted by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc., manager of the ISS National Lab; NASA; and the American Astronautical Society (AAS). The conference brings together leaders in science and industry to explore avenues to utilize the ISS to maximize research and technology development goals. Registration for the 11th annual ISSRDC is now open. To learn more about the conference, including other sessions, speakers, and how to attend, please visit

Media Contact:
Patrick O’Neill

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About the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Lab allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS) manages the ISS National Lab, under Cooperative Agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit