Axiom announces crew for the first private space mission

It was everyone’s dream to go to space once. The dream started when we aspired to become astronauts but this dream changed as we grew up. Earlier it was only possible for astronauts to go to space. But Elon Musk had other plans. Currently, the world’s richest man, Elon Musk is preparing to send 3 people in space. Yes, you read it right. 3 people who are not astronauts will soon go on a journey to outer space and live the dream we all had.

Axiom Space announced on January 26 that it has selected a crew for the first-ever private mission to the International Space station. It is a crew of four people. One is a NASA veteran and three private paying customers. 

The proposed mission is set to launch a SpaceX Crew Dragon. But this mission will not happen before January 2022. The crew will stay at the International Space Station for a time period of eight days. The objective of this mission is to conduct extensive research and undertake “philanthropic projects”. 

The crew members are:

  • Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut. He will be the flight’s commander 
  • Larry Connor will be the flight’s pilot.
  • Mark Pathy will serve as a mission specialist.
  • Eytan Stibbe will also serve as a mission specialist. 

Michael Lopez has logged a total of 260 days in outer space in his previous missions and is also the vice president at Axiom. Lopez-Alegria will be the first former NASA astronaut to return to orbit and visit the ISS. He will also be 63 when he launches. 

At the age of 71 years, Connor will become the second oldest person to fly to space. He is the head of the Connor Group, a luxury apartment investment firm with over $3 billion in assets. 

Pathy, 50, will be the 11th Canadian to fly to space after nine Canadian Space Agency astronauts and the co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, who became Canada’s first so-called “space tourist” in 2009.

Patthy is the CEO and Chairman of Marvik, a privately owned investment and financing company. 

Stibbe, who was born in Haifa, will be the second Israeli to launch into space, following his friend Ilan Ramon, who tragically died on the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Stibbe founded the Vital Capital Fund, which is focused on business and financing ventures primarily in Africa. He is also one of the founders and is a board member of the Center for African Studies at Ben-Gurion University. 

Although Axiom did not disclose the price the three commercial astronauts paid to be on the Ax-1 mission. But according to internal sources, an estimate of cost-per-person is priced around $55 million. 

The mission now needs the approval from NASA. Axiom also proposed the potential of flying two per year. Axiom and NASA are currently working through a Basic Ordering Agreement that will enable private astronaut missions to the ISS. 

The Axiom space station modules will initially be attached to the Harmony node of the ISS. After the ISS is retired, the modules will be separated. It will then become the first free-flying commercial space station in low Earth orbit.