Private astronauts flying on the space station do not want to be ‘tourists’
Axiom Space buys space for NASA’s orbital spacecraft on a SpaceX rocket as the agency seeks to commercialize spaceflight.
On Friday, a retired NASA astronaut and three paying customers set off for the International Space Station.
This is the first mission to a space station where all passengers are private citizens, and the first time NASA has collaborated to arrange a space tour. NASA officials said the flight was a “crucial moment” in efforts to boost space travel through commercial ventures.
“This is indeed a major milestone in our overall mission to propel the commercial low-earth-orbit economy,” Dana Weigel, NASA’s deputy program manager for the space station, told a news conference. Projection
But the mission also underscores that most customers for the cruise trip will be very wealthy in the near future. Axiom Space of Houston worked as a tour operator, selling space for a 10-day trip that included an eight-day trip to the station, for 55 million each. Axiom hired SpaceX to provide transport – a Falcon 9 rocket with a crew dragon capsule, the same system that carries NASA astronauts to and from the station.
At 11:17 a.m. Eastern time, the Axiom-1 mission took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida into the clear blue sky after a smooth countdown.
Shortly after the capsule was detached from the second phase of the rocket, a SpaceX official told the Axiom-1 crew, “Welcome to space.” “Thank you for flying the Falcon 9. You guys enjoyed the journey to that wonderful space station in the sky.”
Axiom-1 Mission’s clients are Larry Connor, managing partner of Connor Group, a firm based in Dayton, Ohio, which owns and operates luxury apartments; Mark Pathi, CEO of Maverick Corporation, a Canadian investment company; And Eytan Stibbe, an investor and former Israeli Air Force pilot.
The former NASA astronaut, who is now vice president of Axiom and commander of the Ax-1 mission, will be flown to the space station by Michael Lopez-Allegria.
“What a ride!” Mr Lopez-Alegria reported on Twitter from the orbit.
They will dock the space station on Saturday morning.
Although the Kennedy Space Center was part of NASA, it had almost no role in launching or orbiting. Agency officials are happy about this because they look to the future when they can buy services like room on the space station from commercial vendors.