On April 9th, 2022, the International Space Station welcomed its very first private guests, marking the beginning of a new era in the future of human spaceflight. On April 8th, SpaceX rocket Falcon 9 carried four people on the Dragon Endeavour spacecraft for the private spaceflight company Axiom Mission (Ax-1) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Larry Connor, founder and managing partner of real estate investment firm The Connor Group from Ohio; Mark Pathy, CEO of investment and financing company MAVRIK from Canada; and Eytan Stibbe, a former Israeli Air Force pilot and founder of investment fund Vital Capital, from Israel, secured their seats by paying a few million USD for their first space voyage. These three were joined by an ex-NASA astronaut, Michael López-Alegría, who is now the chief astronaut at Axiom. Taking off to space is not as easy as taking a bus, train, or plane on Earth. All of them went through rigorous training spanning about 1000 hours.
Out of their 10-day mission, they will spend eight days on the ISS. During this time, these crew members will be presenting 25 different scientific research and technology demonstrations, ranging from astrophysics to neuroscience, and they will spend about 100 hours doing this work. The idea is to create a portfolio that would provide critical insights into the state of advanced technologies in space, explicitly preparing Axiom for the world’s first commercial space module, which is scheduled to be launched in 2024. The ultimate plan of Axiom is to attach multiple modules to the ISS which will detach as an independent station eventually. This space station will become an important platform to conduct research in the microgravity environment, and space exploration of the Moon, and Mars. Moreover, this collaboration between NASA and the private sector for the space industry undoubtedly will revolutionize space travel in the coming years.