Three entrepreneurs and a former astronaut made history Friday when they launched into space on the first all-private mission launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the International Space Station.
SpaceX successfully launched the so-called Ax-1 mission, whose onboard commander is former U.S. Hispanic astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, making it the first time in history that a civilian crew has reached the International Space Station (ISS).
The other members of the team, who paid millions of dollars to embark on the mission that will last 8 days in space, are: Larry Connor, American owner of a real estate company, Canadian Mark Pathy, director of an investment firm, and Israeli ex-astronaut Eytan Stibbe, co-founder of an investment fund.
According to The Associated Press (AP), Connor, Stibbe and Pathy each paid $55 million to participate in the mission.
The civilian crew has asked not to be called space tourists, as they are carrying with them a list of more than 25 scientific and technological investigations, including those related to aging, heart health and stem cells, that they will conduct while at NASA’s space laboratory.
Friday’s flight is the second private charter for Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Axiom Space, which finalized an agreement with NASA to fly four missions with SpaceX, is the beginning of its new goal, building the world’s first private commercial space station in orbit, according to The Hill.
Regarding this, Kam Ghaffarian, CEO of Axiom Space, mentioned just before liftoff: “This moment for me and my colleagues is a very special moment and the beginning of many beginnings. The launch of Ax-1 to the International Space Station is part of our journey to build the first private commercial space station and we’re so grateful to be here and delighted to be a part of this journey to commercialize low-Earth orbit.”