STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS & USED WITH PERMISSION
SpaceX and a Houston -based team are preparing to introduce four private citizens Friday on NASA’s all -time spacecraft to the International Space Station, a key milestone in the government’s effort to encourage the development of the industry. privacy at the highest level.
Michael López-Alegría, the mission’s executive director, a former NASA pilot and vice president with Houston Axiom Space, and Larry Connor, business-philanthropists, Canadian Mark Pathy and Israel Eytan Stibbe to organize will fly from Class 39A at Kennedy Space Center at 11:17 am EDT Friday.
Forecasters had predicted 80 percent of the approval for the launch, but SpaceX said it was looking at conditions on the north side of the Falcon 9 where passengers could be required to board. a catastrophic event.
“All systems are looking forward to the launch of Falcon 9 tomorrow’s @Axiom_Space Ax-1 mission at @space_station,” SpaceX said. “The teams are watching the fall on the way up.”
The Axiom 1 mission, or Ax-1 for short, will mark the sixth release of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, the second full-fledged flight into orbit after the Inspiration4 personal coin. last September and the first ever international sales trip. airfield.
Although 11 private astronauts, or “astronauts,” have visited the space in the past two years under commercial arrangements with the Russian headquarters, they have been accompanied by professional cosmonauts. The Ax-1 spacecraft is the first non-spacecraft to fly to space and the first to be approved by NASA.
The opening of the spacecraft for commercial use is part of a shootout by NASA to train private operations in low Earth orbit and to encourage the development of industrial research facilities in after the ISS retires in 2030.
Currently, Axiom Space has recorded three private astronaut missions via SpaceX and is developing modules to be attached to the center for commercial use. Before the lab rests, a solar power and cooling system will be installed so that the Axiom modules can fly on their own as an independent outpost.
“This is an important mission for two reasons,” said Axiom CEO Mike Suffredini, director of NASA’s space program. “This is the first private mission to the International Space Station. In addition to that, Axiom Space is set to build a commercial space station, the first module will be released within two years from now.
“But this is our first mission of hundreds to come many years to come as we build the Axiom platform and provide services in the earth’s low orbit for many years. much to come. “
Thinking about flying in time, López-Alegría and Connor, a young personal trainer, watch a 20-hour team and approach the center, moving for a check-in at the airport. port of Harmony module will be available at about 7:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Director Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, Kayla Barron and German pilot Matthias Maurer, were released aboard a Dragon Crew last November. Also on hand: Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Medveev and Sergey Korsakov, arrived at the lab last month aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.
López-Alegría is a veteran of four spacecraft, with a long stay on the field, recording 257 days from Earth before leaving NASA in 2012. He has received new training. For the Ax-1 missionary and served as leader. to his new colleagues.
Connor is a “non -profit investor” and the founder of the Connor Group, a real estate company that manages $ 3.5 billion in assets. He was an acrobatic racer, an off -road racer and a mountaineer. Pathy is an investor / philanthropist, director and CEO of an investment and finance company in Montreal.
Stibbe flew F-16 planes into the Israeli army, and later served in the bases while building a military base. During the hard work, he served under Ilan Ramon, who lost his life in the Columbia plane crash after becoming the first Israeli in the air.
“He was a good friend, he was my leader in the squadron and I had the opportunity to visit him during his training in Houston,” Stibbe said. “Since then, I have been very close with his wife and children, and I will take with me a copy of the diary that survived that accident, the diary Ilan wrote on the ship Columbia during the flight.
“Some of the sides survived the disaster. I will take copies of these pages with me. I will take a song written by his son and a beautiful painting by his daughter of pages falling from the sky.
Axiom-1 users plan to spend less than a week on lab work performing a variety of commercially supported bio-medical tests, technical demonstrations and publicity before launch. and return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean or Oceans. of Mexico, about the sky.
The cost of the Ax-1 mission is unknown. SpaceX announces the cost of a Falcon 9 rocket at about $ 60 million, but that will not include the use of a Crew Dragon capsule, team training and round -the -clock support as needed. and for a man’s flight. The NASA CEO estimated the average cost of a Dragon Crew seat at about $ 55 million.
Axiom Space paid for the Ax-1 flight, which covered the cost of the López-Alegría seat. His fellow sailors, or their agents, bought their tickets from Axiom. The company bought NASA -ordered insurance and hired a private contractor, Operator Solutions of Melbourne, Florida, to provide rescue services in the event of a release.
For the Dragon Crew aircraft carrying NASA astronauts, the center relies on the Department of the Treasury and personnel with Detachment 3, a division in the 45th Space Delta at Patrick Space Force Base, to setting up a ground response and rescuing astronauts on a crashed plane.
That option is not available for non-government missionaries. But Operator Solutions, using military and civilian rescue personnel, will provide response support for the Ax-1 team on the ship’s route to the East Coast of the United States during to ascend into orbit.
Because of the high cost of airplanes, civilian pilots, or space tourists, number into the millions or billionaires who are able to accomplish tasks far beyond the reach of the average person. . But López-Alegría told her sailors, and their missionaries who had been arrested in the investigation, so it was not suitable for traditional tourist information.
“I think there’s a place for public viewing, it’s not about this missionary,” he said in an interview with CBS News. “This is something in full monty, full experience.”
Connor agreed, telling reporters “we’ve spent anywhere from 750 to more than 1,000 training hours. In addition, among all the astronauts here, we’ll do 25 various experiments covering over 100 hours of research (while) we were on the ISS.
“I think I will speak for all of us to make sure that this first civilian missionary (is) very honorable and has a great time. But with that comes the great responsibility, and that is the true fulfillment of the mission and the business.
But they don’t hesitate to take a tour in the middle of their research and enjoy the dishes prepared by renowned chef José Andréas, a friend of Madrid’s López-Alegría.
For their first meal in the air, “Ax-1 fans will enjoy Arroz Estelle Valencia, a classic Spanish rice bowl,” Axiom Space said in a release. “After the mission, the crew will eat Secreto de Cerdo with Pisto, a large cut of Ibérico Pork with tomatoes, onions, eggplant, and peppers, as well as chicken and Mushroom Paella, a quintessential rice bowl of Spain. ”