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Thursday, July 25, 2024

SpaceX deploys three passengers to the International Space Station for a total of $55 million apiece

Three wealthy businessmen and an astronaut escort were sent into space on Friday by SpaceX for a more than week-long stay at the International Space Station, marking NASA’s first collaboration with Russia to welcome visitors to the world’s most costly tourist destination.

After two years of transporting personnel to the orbiting laboratory on behalf of NASA, this is SpaceX’s first private charter journey to the facility.

Arriving at the International Space Station Saturday’s speakers will include businessmen from the United States, Canada, and Israel who own investing, real estate, and other businesses. They’re each shelling out $55 million for the rocket flight and lodging, which includes all of the meals.

For decades, Russia has welcomed visitors to the space station – and before that, to the Mir space station – on its behalf. It was only last autumn that a Russian film team descended on the island, followed by a Japanese fashion entrepreneur and his assistant.

After years of opposition to space station visitors, NASA has finally decided to join in on the fun.

“It was a heck of a journey, and we’re looking forward to the next 10 days,” said former NASA astronaut and chaperone Michael Lopez-Alegria after the spacecraft was launched into space.

Visitors’ passes provide them access to the whole space station, with the exception of the Russian segment, which they must get permission to visit from the three cosmonauts currently on board. There are also three Americans and one German that reside up there.

While aboard the International Space Station, Lopez-Alegria intends to avoid discussing politics and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

It was clear that they were excited about the launch before it happened: Stibbe performed a small dance as he arrived at the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center.

Lopez-Alegria, who spent seven months on the International Space Station 15 years ago, stated that SpaceX and NASA have been very transparent with them about the hazards of flying.

The Associated Press interviewed Lopez-Alegria before the trip and she said, “I don’t believe there’s any haze on what the threats are or what the terrible days may look like.”

Each visitor has a long list of experiments to complete during their stay, which is one of the reasons they don’t appreciate being referred to as “space tourists.”

“They’re not up there to stick their noses in the windows,” said Michael Suffredini, co-founder and president of Axiom and a former NASA programme manager for the International Space Station.

The three businessmen are the most recent to take advantage of the availability of space to individuals with significant resources, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Clients may take 10-minute flights to the edge of space with Jeff Bezos‘ rocket business, Blue Origin, while Virgin Galactic hopes to begin flying customers on its rocket ship later this year, according to a press release.

The mission on Friday marks the second private charter for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which previously sent a millionaire and his companions to the International Space Station for a three-day trip last year.

Axiom plans to launch its second private spacecraft to the International Space Station next year. Following that, Axiom will begin building its own rooms to the orbiting complex in 2024, which will allow for even more customer excursions. After around five years, the corporation wants to remove its compartments to construct a self-sustaining station – one of many private outposts that will eventually replace the space station after it is decommissioned and NASA switches its focus to the moon and beyond.

During Friday’s launch, NASA’s new moon rocket, which is now undergoing a dress rehearsal in preparation for a summertime test flight, was located on a nearby pad.

The four tourists are preparing paella and other Spanish dishes cooked by famous chef José Andrés as a thank you to their seven station hosts. NASA’s freeze-dried food will have to suffice for the remainder of their tenure on the station.

The autonomous SpaceX spacecraft carrying the four astronauts is scheduled to return on April 19.

A fabric swatch from the Wright brothers’ 1903 Kitty Hawk plane and gold foil from the Apollo 11 command module from the Neil Armstrong Aviation and Space Museum in Wapakoneta are among the items Connor has collected to commemorate Ohio’s air and space heritage.

Stibbe will carry on the work of the first Israeli in space, Ilan Ramon, who died onboard the space shuttle Columbia in 2003, by continuing a thunderstorm experiment that he began. They were both fighter pilots in the same squadron of fighters.

Among the items Stibbe is transporting are copies of Ramon’s space journal pages that have been retrieved, as well as a song created by Ramon’s musician son and a painting of pages falling from the sky by Ramon’s daughter.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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