ALL NEWS

1st private space crew paying $55M each to fly to station

Jan 27, 2021, 5:58 AM
This combination of photos provided by Axiom Space in January 2021 shows, from left, Larry Connor, ...
This combination of photos provided by Axiom Space in January 2021 shows, from left, Larry Connor, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe. On Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, Axiom announced they will be the first private space station crew, a year ahead of the planned launch. (Courtesy Axiom Space via AP)
(Courtesy Axiom Space via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The first private space station crew was introduced Tuesday: Three men who are each paying $55 million to fly on a SpaceX rocket.

They’ll be led by a former NASA astronaut now working for Axiom Space, the Houston company that arranged the trip for next January.

“This is the first private flight to the International Space Station. It’s never been done before,” said Axiom’s chief executive and president Mike Suffredini, a former space station program manager 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’re providing that opportunity,” Suffredini told The Associated Press.

The first crew will spend eight days at the space station, and will take one or two days to get there aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule following liftoff from Cape Canaveral.

Russia has been in the off-the-planet tourism business 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 paying customers on up-and-down flights lasting just minutes. These trips — much more affordable with seats going for hundreds of thousands versus millions — could kick off this year.

Axiom’s first customers include Larry Connor, a real estate and tech entrepreneur from Dayton, Ohio, Canadian financier Mark Pathy and Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe, a close friend of Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was killed in the space shuttle Columbia accident in 2003.

“These guys are all very involved and doing it for kind of for the betterment of their communities and countries, and so we couldn’t be happier with this makeup of the first crew because of their drive and their interest,” Suffredini said.

Each of these first paying customers intends to perform science research in orbit, he said, along with educational outreach.

Lopez-Alegria, a former space station resident and spacewalking leader, called the group a “collection of pioneers.”

Tom Cruise was mentioned last year as a potential crew member; NASA top officials confirmed he was interested in filming a movie at the space station. There was no word Tuesday on whether Cruise will catch the next Axiom flight. Suffredini declined to comment.

Each of the private astronauts had to pass medical tests and will get 15 weeks of training, according to Suffredini. The 70-year-old Connor will become the second-oldest person to fly in space, after John Glenn’s shuttle flight in 1998 at age 77. He’ll also serve under Lopez-Alegria as the capsule pilot.

Axiom plans about two private missions a year to the space station. It also is working to launch its own live-in compartments to the station beginning in 2024. This section would be detached from the station once it’s retired by NASA and the international partners, and become its own private outpost.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Protestors at the stolen piglets trial...
Elizabeth Weiler

Two men accused of stealing dying piglets from Utah farm face charges

The trial involving two stolen piglets is underway in St. George. The suspects are facing ten years or more in prison if convicted.
19 hours ago
paramore attack great saltair...
Simone Seikaly

Paramore condemns reported homophobic attack at concert

Paramore said the attack happened outside of their view and that they didn't find out about it until after the show.
19 hours ago
rust alec baldwin...
ANDREW DALTON AP Entertainment Writer

Lawsuit settled, filming of “Rust” may resume after Alec Baldwin shooting

Matthew Hutchins, widow of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, says filming will resume on "Rust" in January with the same principal players.
19 hours ago
best before labels...
DEE-ANN DURBIN AP Business Writer

Keep it or toss it? ‘Best Before’ labels cause confusion

Manufacturers have used the labels for decades, but some say "best before" labels have nothing to do with safety and that they encourage food waste.
19 hours ago
Rows of autism sensory packets are pictured at the Utah Highway Patrol office on Oct. 5, 2022 in Mu...
Adam Small

Utah Highway Patrol receives tools for interactions with people with autism

Autism sensory bags will help Utah Highway Patrol troopers de-escalate situations that could be stressful for everyone involved.
19 hours ago
big dog adoption...
Simone Seikaly

Best Friends waives adoption fees for large dogs during October

The society reports that animal shelters and rescue groups across the state are filled with dogs that weigh over 40 pounds.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
1st private space crew paying $55M each to fly to station