The first fully private mission to the International Space Station finally made its way home on Monday, landing off the coast of Florida and wrapping up a week-longer-than-expected mission.
This mission was done by a startup based in Houston, Texas Axiom Space. The company books rocket flights, provides all the necessary training, and coordinates flights to the International Space Station for anyone who can afford them — and it hopes this will be the first of many to come. There were four crew members on this flight—Michael Lopez Alegria, a former NASA astronaut turned Axiom employee who is leading the mission; and three customers paying the price: Israeli businessman Eitan Step; Canadian investor Mark Pathy; Ohio real estate magnate Larry Connor.
The Return of the Beginning is the most dangerous extension of the mission. The Crew Dragon capsule was traveling at over 17,000 miles per hour, and when the final stage of its descent began, the outside of the Crew Dragon capsule heated to about 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit as it sliced through the thickest part of Earth’s atmosphere. Inside the spacecraft’s cabin, the passengers were protected by a heat shield and the temperature must remain below 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Crew Dragon then deployed groups of parachutes as it descended toward the Atlantic Ocean. Rescue teams waiting near the rescue site moved the spacecraft from the ocean to a special boat called the Dragon’s Nest, where final safety checks were carried out before the crew disembarked.
AX-1, which was launched on April 8was originally described as a 10-day mission, but eventually spanned to about 17 days, 15 days of which were spent on the International Space Station.
During their first days on the space station, the group adhered to a strict schedule, which included about 14 hours a day of activities, including scientific reseach that was It has been designed by many research hospitals, universities, technology companies, and more. They also spent time organizing awareness events through video conferences with children and students.
The weather delays then gave them “more time to absorb the wonderful views of the blue planet and review the massive amount of work that was successfully completed during the mission,” according to it. Axiom.
It is not clear how much this task will cost. Axiom previously revealed the price of $55 million per seat for a 10-day trip to the International Space Station, but the company declined to comment on the financial terms of this specific mission other than saying at a press conference last year that the price was in the “tens of millions”.
The mission was made possible by the very close coordination between Axiom, SpaceX and NASA, since the International Space Station is government funded and operated. The space agency revealed some details About how much she charges to use her 20-year-old lab.
For each mission, bringing in the necessary support from NASA astronauts will cost commercial customers $5.2 million, and all mission support and planning that NASA lends is another $4.8 million. While in space, food alone costs an estimated $2,000 per day per person. Getting supplies to and from the space station for a commercial crew is $88,000 to $164,000 per person, per day.
But the additional days the AX-1 crew spent in space due to weather won’t add to their personal total price, according to a NASA statement.
“Knowing that ISS mission objectives such as the recent Russian spacewalk or weather challenges could result in a de-docking delay, NASA negotiated the contract with a strategy that did not require reimbursement for additional de-docking delays,” the statement read. “.
The AX-1 was not the first time that paying customers or non-astronauts had visited the International Space Station, as Russia did Sold out seats On its Soyuz spacecraft to Various Wealthy Thrill Seekers in past years.
But the AX-1 was the first with A crew composed entirely of private citizens with no active members of a government space corps accompanies them in the capsule during the flight to and from the International Space Station. It is also the first time that ordinary citizens have traveled to the International Space Station aboard a US-made spacecraft.
The mission started another round of discussion about whether people who pay for their way into space should be referred to as “astronauts,” although it should be noted that a trip to the International Space Station requires a much greater investment of time and money than taking a short, semi-shoring trip. Orbital on a rocket built by companies like blue origin or Virgo Galaxy.
Lopez Allegria, a veteran Four flights into space between 1995 and 2007 During his time with NASA, he said this about it: “This mission is very different from what you might have heard in some recent missions – especially sub-orbital ones. We are not space tourists. I think there is an important role for space tourism, but that’s not what it means.” Axiom”.
Although fee-paying customers would not receive astronaut wings from the US government, they were provided with a “Universal Astronaut Insignia” – a gold pin recently designed by the Association of Space Explorers, an international group It consists of astronauts from 38 countries. Lopez Allegria presented Stibbe, Pathy and Connor brooches during a welcome party after the group Link at the space station.
“Beer fan. Travel specialist. Amateur alcohol scholar. Bacon trailblazer. Music fanatic.”