Axiom Space’s first private space team will be led by a former NASA astronaut and will include a real estate and technology entrepreneur from Ohio, a Canadian financier and an Israeli businessman.
The first crew of the private space station was featured on Tuesday: three men who each pay $ 55 million to fly a SpaceX rocket.
They will be led by a former NASA astronaut now working for Axiom Space, the Houston company that organized the trip for next January.
“This is the first private flight to the International Space Station. It’s never been done before, ”said Axiom CEO and Chairman Mike Suffredini, former director of the space station program for NASA.
While Mission Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria is well known in space circles, “the other three guys are just people who want to be able to go to space, and we are providing that opportunity,” Suffredini told the Associated Press.
The first crew will spend eight days at the space station and take a day or two to get there aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule after take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida in the United States.
Russia has been in the tourism business off the planet for years, selling rides to the International Space Station since 2001. Other space companies like Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin plan to take customers chargeable on ascending flights. lasting a few minutes. These trips – much more affordable, with seats ranging in the hundreds of thousands to millions – could start this year.
Axiom’s first clients are Larry Connor, a real estate and technology entrepreneur from Dayton, Ohio, Canadian financier Mark Pathy and Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe, a close friend of the first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia crash in 2003.
“These guys are all very involved and do it for the good of their communities and countries, and so we couldn’t be happier with this roster of the first crew due to their drive and interest,” said Suffredini. .
Each of those early paying customers intends to carry out scientific research in orbit, he said, alongside educational outreach.
Lopez-Alegria, a former space station resident and leader in spacewalks, called the group a “collection of pioneers.”
Tom Cruise was mentioned last year as a potential crew member; Senior NASA officials have confirmed that he is interested in shooting a movie on the space station. It was unclear on Tuesday whether Cruise would catch the next Axiom flight. Suffredini declined to comment.
Each of the private astronauts had to pass medical tests and will benefit from 15 weeks of training, according to Suffredini. Connor, 70, will become the second oldest person to fly in space, after John Glenn’s shuttle flight in 1998 at age 77. He will also serve under Lopez-Alegria as a capsule pilot.
Axiom plans about two private missions per year to the space station. It is also working to launch its own residential compartments at the station starting in 2024. This section would be detached from the station once removed by NASA and international partners, and would become its own private outpost.