A SpaceX rocket carrying three paying customers and a veteran NASA astronaut lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, beginning off a first-of-its-kind mission that will transport the trio to the International Space Station for a 10-day stay.
The spacecraft, which detached from the rocket after reaching orbit, is currently free floating through space and will spend all of Friday gently drifting closer to the International Space Station, where it will arrive Saturday around 7:45 a.m. ET.
The journey was arranged by Axiom Space, a Houston-based business that aims to schedule rocket rides, offer all necessary training, and organize flights to the International Space Station for anybody who can afford it.
It’s all part of the US governments and private sector’s plan to enhance economic activities on the International Space Station and beyond. Michael Lopez-Alegra, a former NASA astronaut who now works with Axiom, is the mission’s commander, along with Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe, Canadian billionaire Mark Pathy, and Ohio-based real estate magnate Larry Connor.
It’s not the first time that non-astronauts or paying clients have visited the ISS; in the past, Russia has sold tickets on its Soyuz spacecraft to a variety of affluent thrill seekers. This is, however, the first trip in which the whole crew is made up of private persons, with no active members of the government astronaut corps.
It’s also the first time a private individual has gone to the ISS aboard a spacecraft built in the United States.
How much did all of this cost?
Axiom previously stated that a 10-day journey to the ISS costs $55 million per seat, but the business has failed to comment on the financial details for this expedition, other than to indicate that the price is in the “tens of millions” in a press conference last year.
Because the ISS is government-funded and maintained, the mission requires close collaboration between Axiom, SpaceX, and NASA. The space agency has also published some pricing data for the usage of its 20-year-old orbiting laboratory.
In space, food alone costs $2,000 a day, per person. The cost of transporting supplies to and from the space station for a commercial crew ranges from $88,000 to $164,000 per person, each day. Bringing on the essential support from NASA astronauts will cost commercial clients an additional $5.2 million each trip, plus $4.8 million for all mission support and preparation provided by NASA.
Who is it that is flying?
Lopez-Alegra, a NASA veteran who made four journeys to orbit between 1995 and 2007, is leading this mission as an Axiom employee.
Given the Russia situation, is it safe to travel to the ISS?
The International Space Station (ISS) is the major partner of the United States, and it has long been lauded as a symbol of post-Cold War collaboration. On the ground, however, relations between the US and Russia have reached a fever pitch as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The US and its allies have imposed harsh sanctions on Russia, which has reacted in a variety of ways, including refusing to supply Russian rocket engines to US firms. The president of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, has even threatened to drop out of the ISS accord on social media.
Despite the rhetoric, NASA has frequently said that it and its Russian colleagues are working together flawlessly behind the scenes. “Recent statements about the International Space Station have been brought to NASA’s attention.
Sanctions and export controls imposed by the United States have continued to facilitate civil space collaboration between the United States and Russia aboard the International Space Station “In a recent statement, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson noted.
“For the safety and mission of everyone on board the ISS, the professional cooperation between our foreign partners, astronauts, and cosmonauts remains.”
Are they tourists or astronauts?
This is a question that is currently roiling in the spaceflight community. Anyone who goes more than 50 miles above the Earth’s surface has typically been granted astronaut wings by the US government. Commercial astronaut wings, on the other hand, are a relatively recent classification bestowed by the Federal Aviation Administration, and they may not be distributed as freely.
The FAA announced this year that the Commercial Space Astronaut Wings programme will be phased out on January 1, 2022. The FAA now intends to simply publish the identities of all pilots who fly over 50 miles on a website. Many observers, including NASA astronauts, have chimed in on whether it’s still appropriate to refer to those who buy their way into space as “astronauts.”
Mincing words isn’t something that everyone is worried with?
When challenged about the topic, retired NASA astronaut Terry Virts told National Geographic, “I think attaching your butt to a rocket is worth something.” “I wasn’t jealous of Cessna pilots being called pilots when I was an F-16 pilot. Everyone will be able to tell if you paid for a five-minute suborbital journey or if you’re the captain of an interplanetary spacecraft.
Those are two distinct concepts.” If you ask the crew of the AX-1, they despise being called “tourists.” “This trip is considerably different from some of the previous — particularly suborbital — flights you may have heard about.
We aren’t astronauts, and we aren’t going to the moon “Lopez-Alegra told reporters earlier this month that he was alluding to Jeff Bezos’ business Blue Origin’s brief supersonic flights.”I believe space tourism has a significant role to play, but that is not what Axiom is about.” For this trip, the crew had intensive training, doing many of the same jobs as professional astronauts-in-training.
But the three paying passengers on this journey — Stibbe, Pathy, and Connor — weren’t chosen from thousands of applications and aren’t devoting much of their life to the project. In the past, Axiom has been more casual with word use.
“Human spaceflight on a commercial basis. Tourism in space. It’s occurring, whatever you want to call it. And very soon, “According to the company’s website.
What are they going to do in space?
Each member of the team has a list of research projects on which they want to work. According to Axiom, Connor will be researching how spaceflight impacts senescent cells, which are cells that have stopped replicating normally and are “associated to many age-related disorders.”
The Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic will collaborate on this study. Pathy’s to-do list includes some more medical research, this time focusing on children’s health, which he’ll do in collaboration with various Canadian institutions, as well as some conservation-awareness projects.
Stibbe will also conduct research and focus on educational and creative initiatives that link the younger generation in Israel and throughout the world. Stibbe is flying for the Ramon Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to space education and named after Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who perished in the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in 2003.
According to Stibbe’s Axiom profile, he and Ramon were “close” friends. During downtime, the crew will be able to take in panoramic vistas of the Earth. They’ll also enjoy a dinner with the other astronauts on board at some time.
Jose Andrés, a renowned chef and philanthropist, collaborated with them on the menu. According to Axiom, their meals “focus on tastes and traditional recipes of Commander López-home Alegra’s Spain.”