Science

Crew of paying passengers, including Canadian, arrives at International Space Station

The four-member Axiom Mission 1 crew, including Montrealer Mark Pathy, arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday aboard the first all-private charter flight to the ISS.

3 business executives paid $55M apiece for rocket ride and stay at ISS

Left to right: Mark Pathy, Larry Connor, Michael López-Alegría and Eytan Stibbe. The four arrived on Saturday at the International Space Station as the first commercial crew. (SpaceX)

The four-member Axiom Mission 1 crew, including Montreal  entrepreneur Mark Pathy, arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday aboard the first all-private charter flight to the ISS.

SpaceX launched its Crew Dragon spacecraft from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Friday for the 10-day mission, with the passengers scheduled to spend eight days on the space station.

Financier and philanthropist Pathy, Ohio real estate and tech entrepreneur Larry Connor, and Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe each paid $55 million US for the rocket ride and stay at the ISS. Joining them is retired NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who works for Houston-based startup Axiom Space Inc.

The mission includes a series of science experiments. Pathy has said he'll be helping to test something called holoportation, a new technology that uses virtual reality for communication.

He and a colleague at mission control on the ground will us VR headsets to share their experiences. Pathy will also be participating in surveys of Earth from space.

Canadian businessman Pathy, 52, is seen shortly after entering the International Space Station in this image taken from a NASA live stream of the start of the first all-private mission to the ISS. (NASA)

The spacecraft was set to dock to the Harmony module's space-facing port around 7:45 a.m. ET. However, the docking was delayed for about 45 minutes while NASA resolved an issue with getting a video feed from Dragon.

The new arrivals brought with them two dozen science and biomedical experiments to conduct aboard ISS, including research on brain health, cardiac stem cells, cancer and aging, as well as a technology demonstration to produce optics using the surface tension of fluids in microgravity.

They will be joining the existing ISS occupants of seven regular, government-paid space station crew members — three American astronauts, a German astronaut from the European Space Agency and three Russian cosmonauts.

The new mission, a collaboration among Axiom, Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX and NASA, has been touted by all three as a major step in the expansion of space-based commercial activities collectively referred to by insiders as the low-Earth orbit economy, or "LEO economy" for short.

NASA officials say the trend will help the U.S. space agency focus more of its resources on big-science exploration, including its Artemis program to send humans back to the moon and ultimately to Mars.

 

With files from Reuters

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