Axiom 1: 1st all-private crew docks at space station after ‘phenomenal ride’
Axiom 1, the first privately funded mission to the International Space Station, docked at the ISS Saturday morning after a 20-plus hour ride with three wealthy businessmen aboard.
According to the ISS, the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor landed at 8:29 a.m. after a short delay.
"Words don’t describe it," said Ohio real estate entrepreneur and pilot Larry Connor, one of the three businessmen aboard. "Phenomenal ride. I mean, no pun intended, but out of this world."
The 11-person crew aboard the station comprises of (bottom row from left) Expedition 67 Flight Engineers Denis Matveev, Kayla Barron, Oleg Artemyev, and station Commander Tom Marshburn; (center row from left) Axiom Mission 1 astronauts Mark Pathy, Ey
The Axiom-1 mission launched from Kennedy Space Center late Friday morning from the same pad used by NASA’s Apollo rockets and space shuttles.
Axiom Space is paying SpaceX to launch Crew Dragon Endeavour with the three businessmen - Connor, Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy and Israeli investor and philanthropist Eytan Stibbe - along with Axiom's vice president, former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, who will command the mission.
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The businessmen are paying $55 million apiece for the rocket ride and accommodations, all meals included, according to The Associated Press.
López-Alegría, a former commander of the ISS, said the moment the crew reached orbit and got out of their space suits, he could hear the first-time space goers all say the same thing as they looked out the window: expletives.
"And I just smiled a little bit, and when I got my turn to look at it, same expletive," he said.
Stibbe, the Israeli crew member, made remarks in Hebrew.
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"It’s been an amazing journey," said Pathy, the Canadian crew member. "Not just talking about the last 24 hours, but I’m talking about everything that got us here."
The four crew members will have 10 days to conduct research and what Axiom calls "STEM outreach" at the orbiting outpost.
SpaceX has already launched the first privately chartered astronaut crew into orbit. Last year’s Inspiration4 mission sent Jared Isaacman and three other people on a three-day mission that also raised $200 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Inspiration4 did not visit the space station.