Personal ticket to space with NASA: US$55m each
The first private space station crew was introduced on Tuesday: Three men who are each paying US$55 million to fly on a SpaceX rocket.
They’ll be led by a former NASA astronaut now working for Axiom Space, the Houston company that arranged the trip for next January.
“This is the first private flight to the International Space Station. It’s never been done before,” said Axiom’s chief executive and president Mike Suffredini, a former space station program manager for NASA.
While mission commander Michael Lopez-Alegria is well known in space circles, “the other three guys are just people who want to be able to go to space, and we’re providing that opportunity,” Suffredini said.
The first crew will spend eight days at the space station, and will take one or two days to get there aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule.
Russia has been in the off-the-planet tourism business for years, selling rides to the ISS since 2001. Other space companies like Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin plan to take customers on up-and-down flights lasting just minutes.
Axiom plans about two private missions a year to the ISS. It also is working to launch its own live-in compartments to the station from 2024.
This would be detached from the station once it’s retired by NASA and the international partners, and become its own private outpost.