the aerospace firm SpaceX launched a rocket with three businessmen and a companion astronaut wing Space station International to visit him for more than a week, bringing the JAR joined with Russia to welcome guests to the most expensive tourist destination in the world.
This is the first private charter flight of SpaceX to the orbital laboratory after two years of taking astronauts there for the JAR.
The rocket lifted off on Friday and an American, Canadian and Israeli who runs investments, real estate and other businesses were due to arrive at the station on Saturday. They each paid $55 million for the rocket flight and accommodation, all meals included.
As a gift to the seven guests of the ISS, the four visitors will arrive with paella and other dishes of Spanish cuisine prepared by chef José Andrés. The rest of their time on orbital base, they must eat freeze-dried food from the JAR.
Russia received tourists in the space station — and previously at the Mir station — for decades. Last fall, a team of Russian filmmakers visited the orbital laboratory, followed by a Japanese fashion mogul and his assistant.
The JAR finally did the same, after years of opposing the presence of tourists at the orbital base.
“It’s been an amazing journey and we’re looking forward to the next 10 days,” the former astronaut said after entering orbit. JAR Michael Lopez-Alegria, who accompanied the businessmen.
Visitor tickets include access to all space station, except for the Russian part, for which they will require the authorization of the three cosmonauts on board. In the orbital laboratory, there are already three Americans and a German.
Lopez-Alegria said she plans to avoid talking about politics and the war in Ukraine while she is at the space station. “Honestly, I think it won’t be awkward. I mean, maybe a little,” he added. He hopes that “the spirit of collaboration will shine through”.
The private company Axiom Space organized the visit with the JAR on behalf of his three clients: Larry Connor, of Dayton, Ohio, who runs the Connor Group; Mark Pathy, founder and CEO of Mavrik Corp., Montreal; and Israeli Eytan Stibbe, former fighter pilot and founding partner of Vital Capital.
Before the flight, the enthusiasm of the tourists it was evident. Stibbe took a few dance steps as he reached the Kennedy Space Center launch pad.
SpaceX and the JAR they’ve been candid with them about the risks of spaceflight, said Lopez-Alegria, who spent seven months on the ISS 15 years ago.
“There’s no doubt, I guess, about the dangers or what the bad days could be,” López-Alegria told The Associated Press before the flight.
Head of Space Operations JARKathy Lueders, said there was a lot to learn from this first visit to tourists on an American flight. “But this takeoff was a good start,” he told reporters.
Each of the visitors will carry out various experiences during their stay, which is why they do not like to be called tourists spatial.
“They’re not up there sticking their noses out the window,” said Michael Suffredini, co-founder and president of Axiom, who previously served as head of programs at space station for the JAR.
The three businessmen they are the last to take advantage of the opening of the space for wealthy visitors. Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin is taking customers on 10-minute journeys to the far reaches of space, while Virgin Galactic hopes to start taking tourists in his spacecraft later this year.
Friday’s flight is the second private charter for SpaceX by Elon Musk, who took a billionaire and his guests on a three-day orbital journey last year. The fifth astronaut flight of the JAR from SpaceX at the station will take place in a few weeks.
Axiom aims to execute its second private flight to the ISS next year. More customer voyages will follow, and Axiom will add its own rooms to the orbital complex beginning in 2024. After about five years, the company plans to separate its compartments to form a self-contained station, one of several trading posts slated to replace the international orbital base, once it is unloaded and JAR shift your priorities to the Moon.