The spacecraft, which detached from the rocket after entering orbit, now flies freely in orbit and will spend all day on Friday, slowly maneuvering closer to the ISS, where it is scheduled to dock Saturday around 7:45 a.m. Eastern Time.
The trip was organized by startup Axiom Space from Houston, Texas, which seeks to book rocket flights, provide all necessary training and coordinate ISS flights for anyone who can afford it. All of this is in line with the goal of the U.S. government and the private sector to intensify business on the ISS and beyond.
On board this mission called AX-1 are Michael Lopez-Allegria, a former NASA astronaut who became an employee of Axiom, who runs the mission; Israeli businessman Eitan Stibbe; Canadian investor Mark Patty; and Ohio real estate mogul Larry Connor.
This is not the first time that clients or other non-astronauts have visited the ISS, as Russia has sold seats on its Soyuz spacecraft to various wealthy thrill seekers. in years past. But this is the first mission to include a crew made up entirely of private citizens without active members of government astronauts. This is also the first time that private citizens have traveled to the ISS on an American-made spacecraft.
Here’s everything you need to know.
How much did it all cost?
The mission was made possible by very close coordination between Axiom, SpaceX and NASA, as the ISS is funded and managed by the government.
Food alone costs $ 2,000 a day per person in space. Delivery of products to and from the space station for a commercial crew costs another $ 88,000 to $ 164,000 per person per day. For each mission, the necessary support from NASA astronauts will cost commercial customers another $ 5.2 million, and all the support and mission planning provided by NASA will cost another $ 4.8 million.
Is it safe to go to the ISS, given the conflict with Russia?
Russia is a major partner of the United States on the ISS, and the space station has long been hailed as a symbol of post-Cold War cooperation.
Despite all the noise, NASA has repeatedly sought to assure that behind the scenes NASA and its Russian counterparts are working together.
“NASA is aware of recent comments about the International Space Station. US sanctions and export controls continue to allow US-Russian civilian space cooperation on the space station,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a recent statement. “The professional relationship between our international partners, astronauts and astronauts continues for the safety and mission of all aboard the ISS.”
Are they astronauts or tourists?
This question now stands in the space flight community.
The U.S. government traditionally rewards the wings of an astronaut to anyone who approaches more than 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. But the astronaut’s commercial wings – a relatively new designation issued by the Federal Aviation Administration – may not be so liberal.
Whether it is fair to continue to call people who pay for their journey into space “astronauts” is an open question, and countless observers, including NASA astronauts, have weighed.
If you ask the AX-1 crew, they don’t like to be called “tourists”.
“This mission is very different from what you may have heard on some of the recent – especially suborbital – missions. We are not space tourists,” Lopez-Allegria told reporters earlier this month, referring to short supersonic flights. committed by Jeff. Bezosa Blue Origin Company. “I think space tourism plays an important role, but that’s not what Axiom is about.”
The crew has indeed undergone extensive training for this mission, taking on almost the same tasks as the professional astronauts being trained. But the fact is that the three payment customers of this flight – Steeb, Patti and Connor – were not selected from thousands of applicants and do not dedicate most of their lives to this cause.
Axiom herself has been more frivolous about word usage in the past.
What will they do in space?
Each of the crew members has a list of research projects they plan to work on.
Connor will conduct some research on how space flight affects aging cells that have stopped the normal process of replication and are “linked to many age-related diseases,” Axiom reports. This study will be conducted in partnership with the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic.
Among the items on Patty’s to-do list are some additional medical research more focused on children’s health, which he will conduct in partnership with several Canadian hospitals, as well as some conservation awareness initiatives.
Stibbe will also conduct some research and focus on “educational and artistic activities to connect the younger generation in Israel and around the world,” Axiom reports. Stibbe flies on behalf of the Ramon Foundation, a nonprofit space education organization named after Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who died in the 2003 Columbia shuttle crash. Stibb’s biography “Axiom” states that there was a “close” friendship between Ramon and Ramon. .
During downtime the crew will also be able to enjoy the vast views of the Earth. And at some point they will go with other astronauts on board. Their food was prepared in partnership with the famous chef and philanthropist Jose Andres. Their dishes “rely on the flavors and traditional dishes of native Spain Commander Lopez-Allegri,” reports Axiom.