Private spaceflight specialist Axiom Space has reached an agreement with SpaceX for three additional crewed flights to the International Space Station (ISS).

This increases Axiom’s total planned missions with SpaceX to four, including the previously announced Ax-1 mission.

The company plans to launch Ax-1 in January 2022 onboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule.

Last month, Axiom confirmed that astronaut Peggy Whitson and champion GT racer John Shoffner to be the commander and pilot for its proposed Ax-2 mission, now known as Dragon flight.

The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Axiom president and CEO Michael Suffredini said: “Axiom was founded on a vision of lasting commercial development of space.

“We are on track to enable that future by managing the first-ever private missions to the ISS as a precursor to our development of the world’s first commercial space station.

“SpaceX has blazed the trail with reliable, commercial human launch capability and we are thrilled to partner with them on a truly historic moment.”

The Dragon spacecraft, which is developed by SpaceX under Nasa’s Commercial Crew programme, has completed three successful human spaceflight missions, namely Demo-2, Crew-1, and Crew-2 to the ISS.

Axiom and Nasa have already signed a broad agreement that allows the company to fly private astronaut missions to ISS.

SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell said: “We are beyond excited to build upon our partnership with Axiom to help make human spaceflight more accessible for more people. A new era in human spaceflight is here.”