Not long ago, NASA tied up with private players to invest and participate in the Space Wars. After the successful SpaceX Crew-1 flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft, which carried four NASA and JAXA astronauts to the International Space Station last year, other private parties are on their way to the ISS as well. The Axiom Space announced its crew list for their first privately chartered flight, a commercial crew dragon mission, to the space station which will ferry four private astronauts into space. They released the list on January 26.
As early as 2022, these four men will create history by being the first to purchase a commercial trip into space. So far, the elite privilege had been reserved for a select few hand-picked by governmental agencies across the globe.
Former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría will be the Ax-1 mission commander. He has been working with Axiom since his departure from NASA. Under his charge will be three passengers, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe. They will spend a total of eight days on the ISS.
“We sought to put together a crew for this historic mission that had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the people on Earth, and I’m glad to say we’ve done that with this group,” said Michael Suffredini, president and chief executive of Axiom Space.
The flight is the first one in a series of commercial flights currently in the pipeline. The company wants to add a commercial module to the ISS soon and later it can be a precursor to a standalone space station. The rocket that will launch them into the vast cosmos is from SpaceX, the crew dragon rocket.
The dream that only existed in science fiction works of Robert A. Heinlein or Arthur C. Clarke is now becoming a reality. People went on a vacation to the moon (like in 'A Fall of Moondust' or 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress'). While moon-holidays are a long way to go, we can at least visit the space station.
The future astronauts are all billionaires (unsurprisingly) as they had to shell out $55 million for their tickets (Rs 400 crore). Though Axiom has not officially disclosed the price and this is only an estimate by industry sources.
These men will go through a series of medical tests and nearly 15 months of training to prepare them for their 8-day space vacation. The first member, Connor, is an entrepreneur. He is a partner of the real-estate firm The Connor Group as well as race car driver and a pilot. He will be the capsule pilot, assisting astronaut López-Alegría. Pathy is a Canadian resident chief executive of Mavrik (investment firm) and chairman Stingray Group, a media and technology company. Lastly is Stibbe who founded Viral Capital. He is also a former Israeli Air Force pilot. They will be contributing in the scientific research aboard the station.
This is not the first time a commercial passenger will be ferried to the ISS. Russia has sold commercial tickets since 2001. Even more trips are being planned, including one with Tom Cruise who wants to shoot a movie on the ISS.