Axiom Space reveals space tourists visiting ISS for $165 million
You can buy your way into space! For $55 million each, former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe, Canadian investor Mark Pathy, and American real estate investor Larry Connor will fly to the International Space Station sometime next year. The private mission is being arranged by Texas-based startup Axiom Space. The space tourists will be using SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule for their zero-g holiday.
Not quite the first paid tourists to visit the ISS
Axiom Space touts the Ax-1 mission as "history's first private ISS crew," which is technically accurate on account of the clever choice of words. However, American businessman Dennis Tito had already paid $20 million for a 7-day vacation aboard the ISS in 2001. While this motley crew of space tourists isn't the first paid visit to the ISS, it is the first private crew.
Stay in ISS will cost the private crew $1.1 million
The renewed push for private visits to the ISS comes after NASA updated its space monetization policies in 2019. Stay on the space station comes out to about $35,000 per night. The Ax-1 mission, therefore, costs about $1.1 million for eight nights of stay for the four-member team, including commander Michael López-Alegría. That explains why there've been only seven private space tourists so far.
SpaceX Crew Dragon: First commercially-built astronaut capsule enabling this endeavor
Axiom's space tourism endeavor will happen sometime in 2022, thereby making it first in the line of relatively affordable means for private individuals to visit space. SpaceX's pioneering work with reusable Crew Dragon vehicle is what brings these missions within the realm of possibility for non-state entities. The Crew Dragon has already flown two very successful manned missions to the ISS last year.
Private crew will conduct 'research and philanthropic projects' aboard ISS
Apart from the two days of transit, the private astronaut crew will spend eight days on the space station conducting "research and philanthropic projects". Despite the heavy cost of entry, the crew will not have separate quarters and will have to set up sleeping bags somewhere on the station. The Ax-1 mission is currently pending approval from the multinational ISS's Multilateral Crew Operations Panel.