Three private citizens – Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe, will be hitching a ride to the ISS after paying about $55 million each. Accompanying them on this trip is Michael Lopez-Alegria – a former NASA commander, who had been in space several times. They will be going aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule in 2022.

This mission is put together by Axiom Space, a private space company based in Texas. Axiom is at the forefront of promoting a future for humans in space. The company is part of a growing list of private space firms that are making the journey to space a lot more accessible to private individuals.

Michael Lopez-Alegria, who is now the vice president of Axiom Space, disclosed that this particular trip will be a trend-setter, blazing the trail for the future of space missions. He noted that the team in charge of the journey intends to exceed all expectations.

Larry Connor, one of the private citizens participating in the ride, is the managing partner of a real estate investment company in Ohio – the Connor Group. Mark Pathy is the CEO of Mavrik Corp – a Canadian Investment company. Eytan Stibbe is a former Israeli Air Force fighter pilot but now a businessman.

What the three have in common is that they’re extremely wealthy, with the finance to fund this exotic trip. Axiom Space revealed the identities of the three men on Tuesday morning. Axiom revealed that the trip to the ISS will take two days, and the passengers will spend about eight days in the orbital laboratory, taking part in a broad range of research and charity projects, Washington Post reports.

NASA had initially banned missions to space by private citizens. Wealthy citizens who desperately wanted a space trip experience had to make do with the Russian Soyuz craft that allowed private citizens.

However, the US space agency reversed its decision in 2019 to promote the growing commercial space industry. It was also a way for NASA to make money. The agency charges $35,000 a day for each passenger, providing them with essentials such as food, storage, and communication while on the ISS. So, for the eight-day duration, NASA will be making about $1 million from four individuals.

With the entrance of commercial players such as SpaceX, Boeing, Axiom Space, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin, space tourism has turned into a thriving industry, attracting the super-rich. Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, said he is on a mission to make space travel a routine affair. He has promised to colonize Mars and make it habitable for humans.

Most of Axiom Space’s top management team are NASA veterans. The current CEO of the company, Mike Suffredini, was NASA’s ISS program manager. He left NASA to form Axiom in 2016. Training programs have already commenced for the three space tourists, with Lopez-Alegria coordinating the training.

Source: theverge.com