A U.S. SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a professional and three civilian passengers was successfully launched at 17:17 pm (GMT+2), Friday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is the first all-private space mission to the International Space Station.
The flight has been organised by Axiom Space Inc., a U.S. privately funded space infrastructure developer startup. Based on Washington Post’s information, the international crew consists of Mark Pathy, the chief executive of a Canadian investment firm; Larry Connor, the managing partner of an Ohio real estate group; Eytan Stibbe, a businessman and former Israeli Air Force Fighter pilot; and Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut who serves as an Axiom vice president. According to SzeretlekMagyarorszag, one of the crew members, Canadian businessman and philanthropist, Mark Pathy is of Hungarian descent through his paternal grandparents. The wealthy entrepreneurs paid $55 million for the space adventure.
Billionaire Elon Musk’s Endevaour space capsule, which is part of his latest Crew Dragon fleet, blasted off on its 10-day mission Friday morning and will reach the ISS within approximately 22 hours. However, unlike the recent, much-publicized suborbital flights carried out by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, the Axiom company says its mission should not be considered tourism.The crew is expected to carry out scientific research in an orbiting laboratory at the space station’s newly built commercial wing. Axiom revealed a few details about the 25 biomedical research projects which include collecting data used to study space travel’s effects on aging cells and heart health and experiments involving the effects of microgravity on sleep and chronic pain.
In addition, crew member Eyta Stibbe plans to pay a tribute to his late friend Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut, who lost his life in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia catastrophe when the spacecraft disintegrated during re-entry, killing all seven astronauts on board. Following that disaster, NASA suspended space shuttle flights for more than two years to investigate the lethal incident. Space.com writes that the cause of the disaster, as the investigation board later determined, was a large piece of foam that fell from the shuttle’s external tank and breached the spacecraft wing. Surviving pages from Ramon’s space diary, as well as small keepsakes from his four children and mourning widow, will be brought to the station by Stibbe.
Last year, SpaceX flew another mission with four private passengers. However, at that time the crew remained inside the capsule orbiting the Earth for three days. The mission, dubbed Inspiration4, was billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman’s privately funded trip which had the main purpose to raise a donation for a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to the trip of their lifetime, the current crew spent more than 1,000 hours training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and SpaceX’s headquarters outside of Los Angeles. They will spend eight days aboard the space station before the all-private space mission ends its course and have a scheduled splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Florida.
Source: washingtonpost.com, szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu, space.com