An American real estate investor, a Canadian investor, and a former Israeli Air Force pilot are paying $55 million each to be part of the first fully private astronaut crew to journey to the International Space Station. The Verge reports: The trio will hitch a ride on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule early next year, with a veteran NASA astronaut as the commander. The Ax-1 mission, arranged by Houston, Texas-based space tourism company Axiom Space, is a watershed moment for the space industry as companies race to make space travel more accessible to private customers instead of governments. Private citizens have trekked to the space station in the past, but the Ax-1 mission marks the first to use a commercially built astronaut capsule: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which flew its first two crews to the ISS last year.
Larry Connor, an entrepreneur and nonprofit activist investor; Mark Pathy, the Canadian investor and philanthropist; and Eytan Stibbe, the former Israeli fighter pilot and an impact investor, were revealed by Axiom on Tuesday morning as the company’s inaugural crew. Connor, 71, is president of The Connor Group, a luxury real estate investment firm based in Ohio. He’d become the second-oldest person to fly to space after John Glenn, who flew the US space shuttle Discovery at 77 years old.
The crew’s flight to the space station, an orbital laboratory some 250 miles above Earth, will take two days. They’ll then spend about eight days aboard the station’s US segment, where they’ll take part “in research and philanthropic projects,” Axiom said in a statement. Living alongside working astronauts from the US, Russia, and likely Germany, the private crew members will roll out sleeping bags somewhere on the station. […] The Ax-1 mission will have to be approved by the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel, the space station’s managing body of partner countries that includes the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, and others. That approval process kicked off today…
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