Three private citizens, all from three different countries, will pay $55 million each to travel to the International Space Station for eight days as soon as next January in what has been proposed as the first entirely private spaceflight mission in human history.
The trip, which will be conducted by Axiom Space, plans to send the three private citizens to the ISS along with Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut and the vice president of Axiom Space. The other men who will be on the mission include: Larry Connor, 71, an American entrepreneur and real estate investor, Mark Pathy, 51, a Canadian investor, and Eytan Stibbe, 63, an Israeli businessman and ex-fighter pilot.
According to Axiom Space, each of the men will engage in various philanthropic projects while in orbit, such as teaching or doing experiments for researchers on the ground.
“This collection of pioneers – the first space crew of its kind – represents a defining moment in humanity’s eternal pursuit of exploration and progress,” said López-Alegría in a statement Tuesday. “I know from firsthand experience that what humans encounter in space is profound and propels them to make more meaningful contributions on returning to Earth. And as much as any astronaut who has come before them, the members of this crew have accomplished the sorts of things in life that equip them to accept that responsibility, act on that revelation, and make a truly global impact.”
“I look forward to leading this crew and to their next meaningful and productive contributions to the human story, both on orbit and back home,” he said.
According to “Good Morning America,” which first reported on the planned trip, the three men who will be joining López-Alegría will each pay $55 million. The Axiom Space vice president traveled to space on four missions during his decades-long career as a NASA astronaut. López-Alegría has logged 257 days in space and performed 10 space walks.
The private crew will be traveling on the SpaceX Dragon Capsule, a craft that made history last year when it successfully sent two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, to the ISS and back. (Previous manned crafts traveling to the ISS have been built by governments, not by companies.)
“We sought to put together a crew for this historic mission that had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the people on Earth, and I’m glad to say we’ve done that with this group,” said Axiom Space President Michael Suffredini.
“This is just the first of several Axiom Space crews whose private missions to the International Space Station will truly inaugurate an expansive future for humans in space–and make a meaningful difference in the world when they return home,” he said.
The company, which advertises itself as “the space industry’s only full-service orbital mission provider for private and national astronauts,” hopes to perform two of these types of missions per year in the future.