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​Passengers On First Ever Private Space Station Flight Announced

Jess Hardiman

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​Passengers On First Ever Private Space Station Flight Announced

Featured Image Credit: Axoim Space

The four passengers set to travel on the first ever private space station flight have been announced, with seats costing $55 million (£40 million) a pop.

Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria will lead the first privately crewed mission, joined by paying crew members Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe.

They will be travelling to the International Space Station next year aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, as a collaboration between Elon Musk's company and Axoim Space, which is coordinating the mission.

In his first interview after being chosen to command Ax-1, Lopez-Alegria told collectSPACE: "I'm just so grateful for this opportunity.

"This seems like a gift from God and I just want to appreciate it."

After launching from Cape Canaveral in Florida, it will take the group between one and two days to reach the ISS, where they will spend eight days.

The mission will see the first former NASA astronaut to return to the ISS, while 71-year-old Larry Connor will become the second oldest person to launch into space - after John Glenn's 1998 shuttle flight at the age of 77.

Connor said in a statement: "I believe space is the last great frontier.

"I'm thrilled and honored to be a part of this historic mission.

"That's what I'm excited about."

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Credit: PA
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Credit: PA

Connor, who made his fortune in computer equipment the 1980s and 90s before founding the Connor Group real estate investment firm in 2003, will also serve under Lopez-Alegria as the capsule pilot - making him the first private astronaut mission pilot in the history of space travel.

He added: "It's not about being the first pilot. It's about doing things that can only be done in space - experiments in microgravity. It's a unique way to help humankind."

Mark Pathy, 51, is the chief executive of Canadian investment firm Mavrik Corp, and will become the 11th Canadian to fly into space.

Eytan Stibbe, a 63-year-old businessman and former Israeli Air Force fighter pilot, will also become the second ever Israeli in space.

From left, Eytan Stibbe, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Mark Pathy and Larry Connor. Credit: Axoim Space
From left, Eytan Stibbe, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Mark Pathy and Larry Connor. Credit: Axoim Space

He is more than aware of the risks involved in space travel, following the death of close friend Ilan Ramon, who was Israel's first astronaut.

He died when the space shuttle Columbia came apart on reentry in 2003.

Stibbe told the Washington Post: "Obviously there's some fear, and this is definitely extreme. And then there are risks, and I'm aware of the risks."

Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said the flight is a 'watershed moment in the march toward universal and routine access to space'.

He continued: "These guys are all very involved and doing it for kind of for the betterment of their communities and countries, and so we couldn't be happier with this makeup of the first crew because of their drive and their interest."

SpaceX and Axoim had initially set this January as the date for the flight, but it is now due to take place in January 2022.

Topics: World News, News, SpaceX, space

Jess Hardiman
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