The first entirely private space mission, made up of three businessmen and a former astronaut who left on a SpaceX rocket, arrived early Saturday at the International Space Station (ISS) where it will remain a little longer. 'one week.
All smiles, often thumbs up in their black and blue uniforms, the commander of the Ax-1 mission, the American-Spanish Michael Lopez-Alegria, the Canadian Mark Pathy, the American Larry Connor and the Israeli Eytan Stibbe came out one after another from SpaceX's Dragon capsule.
A civilian crew
They were greeted with hugs from ISS crew members and camera flashes.
Larry Connor said he was "delighted and honored" to participate in the experience but also aware of the "responsibility" of this first mission made up of "civilians", preparing for "a busy week of research".
Eytan Stibbe insisted on speaking “Hebrew in the ISS”, and Mark Pathy described the adventure as “incredible”.
Michael Lopez-Alegria, a 63-year-old former NASA astronaut, is now an employee of the Axiom company, which organized the trip, and he had been to the ISS before.
The four men have a busy schedule, with some 25 experiments on aging, heart health and even stem cells.
The other three crew members paid tens of millions of dollars each for the experiment.
The pilot role is occupied by Larry Connor, who is the head of a real estate company.
Mark Pathy is the boss of an investment company and ex-pilot Eytan Stibbe is the co-founder of an investment fund.
Novices have already visited the space station, especially in the 2000s. Last year, Russia sent a film crew there, then a Japanese billionaire.
But these flew aboard Soyuz rockets, accompanied by cosmonauts.
A future private space station
Axiom Space bought the means of transport from SpaceX and paid NASA for the use of its station.
The company has reached an agreement for a total of four missions with SpaceX, and NASA has already formally approved the principle of a second, Ax-2.
For Axiom Space, this is a first step towards an ambitious goal: the construction of its own space station.
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