Axiom Space on Tuesday announced it'll be taking space travel into a new era that'll involve regular, private citizens to lift off to a Low Earth Orbit destination - the first-ever entirely private mission proposed to fly to the International Space Station.
The proposed historic Axiom Mission 1 will consist of: former NASA astronaut and Axiom vice president Michael López-Alegría as commander; American entrepreneur and non-profit activist investor Larry Connor as pilot; Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy; and impact investor and philanthropist Eytan Stibbe of Israel.
López-Alegría, who flew to space four times over a 20-year, record-setting career at NASA and last visited the ISS in 2007, will become the first person to ever command both a civil and a commercial human spaceflight mission. Connor will be the first private mission pilot in the annals of spaceflight.
"Somebody said to me, 'So, you realize you'll be the second oldest person ever to go into outer space,'" said 71-year-old Connor. "And my response, which they already knew, was 'I think age is overrated.'"
Pathy will be Canada's 11th astronaut. Stibbe, a close personal friend of Columbia astronaut Ilan Ramon and a former Israeli Air Force pilot, will be Israel's second. Both will fly as mission specialists.
All four will be training for 15 weeks with Axiom Space. The cost per ticket is set at $55 million.
"Back in the 1920s and 30s only very rich people could fly," said López-Alegría. "Now, people get on an airplane to go to birthday parties. So that's going to happen in commercial human spaceflight."
Mike Suffredini ran NASA's space station program. Now, he's Axiom's CEO and said that research is his North Star.
'There's pharmaceuticals made today on orbit, that you probably don't realize," said Suffredini. "There's pharmaceuticals made on the ground based on testing that's done on orbit years ago! But, you don't realize that."
This is a mission Connor said he can't wait to be a part of.
When asked by "Good Morning America" reporter Gio Benitez what his wife says, Connor answered, "She's seen me do a lot of really unusual things. So the look is usually like this, 'And there he goes again!' And she's right, here we go again."
The private crew is expected to launch next January. They'll spend 10 days on the International Space Station.
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