SpaceX’s Ax-1 tourist mission has arrived safely at the ISS

SPACE – Successful docking and arrival at Space X. The American company’s Crew Dragon capsule carrying the first fully private crew arrived at the International Space Station this Saturday, April 9. The historic event was filmed by SpaceX. After several processes, the crew managed to enter the ISS as you can see in our video at the top of the article.

They were greeted with hugs from ISS crew members and camera flashes.

The rocket had taken off from Florida the day before, Friday, April 8, at 5:12 pm Paris time. “We can’t wait to see what the rest has in store, thanks for this great job,” said American Larry Connor, who runs a real estate company but is piloting this mission. 1.

In the capsule were also the businessmen Israeli Eytan Stibbe and Canadian Mark Pathy. The only professional on the team who already knows the ISS is the American-Spanish Michael Lopez-Alegria. He is a former NASA astronaut now employed by Axiom. The latter organized the trip, buying SpaceX’s means of transport and paying NASA for the use of its station and for training passengers.

They all paid tens of millions of dollars each to stay on the ISS for a week. They join the other seven members already in office: three NASA astronauts, a German astronaut and three Russian cosmonauts.

Newbies have already visited the space station (ISS), mostly in the 2000s. Last year, Russia sent a film crew there, then a Japanese billionaire. But these flew aboard Soyuz rockets, accompanied by cosmonauts.

Not just a tourist mission

“We are expanding the terrestrial boundaries of commerce into space,” hailed Bill Nelson, head of the US space agency, who participated in the liftoff. A privatization that does not please everyone.

However, the mission is not just touristic. The four men have a busy schedule, with around 25 experiments on aging, heart health and even stem cells. “They’re not there to stick their noses in the portholes. They are there to do meaningful research, each in their own way,” said Michael Suffredini, co-founder of Axiom, before leaving.

“The experiments I do up there, which come from Canadian universities and research institutions, would probably not have the opportunity to be tested in space” without this mission, Mark Pathy argued.

“I think it’s important to differentiate between space tourists and private astronauts,” said Larry Connor. The former “spend 10 to 15 hours training, five to 10 minutes in space. (…) We spent between 750 and over 1,000 hours of training.” In particular, they want to differentiate themselves from the space tourists who took part in the few-minute flights organized in 2021 by Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.

Axiom wants to build its own space station

Larry Connor and Michael Lopez-Alegria were also trained on SpaceX’s Dragon capsule system. And they all learned to react in case of emergency at the station. But also to carry out tasks of daily living, such as washing in weightlessness.

However, their training is less extensive than that of professional astronauts, who must be able to perform spacewalks or even repair equipment.

For Axiom Space, this is a first step towards an ambitious goal: building its own space station. The first module of this private station should be launched in September 2024. The structure will first be attached to the ISS, before becoming autonomous when it is retired, a priori around 2030.

This move towards privatization of low orbit is strongly encouraged by NASA, which wants to generate income through these private missions and, in the long term, no longer have to manage the operation of a station, but rather rent the services of the structures. to focus on distant exploration.

See also in The HuffPost: Thomas Pesquet’s three stories after his second voyage aboard the ISS

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