The first private space station crew was introduced Tuesday, there will be three men who are each paying $55 million to fly on a SpaceX rocket. They will be led by a former NASA astronaut now working for Axiom Space, the Houston company that arranged the trip for next January.
Axiom's chief executive and president Mike Suffredini, a former space station program manager for NASA said, this is the first private flight to the International Space Station. It's never been done before.
While mission commander Michael Lopez-Alegria is well known in space circles, the other three guys are just people who want to be able to go to space, and we are providing that opportunity.
The first crew will spend eight days at the space station, and will take one or two days to get there aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule following liftoff from Cape Canaveral.
Suffredini said, these guys are all very involved and doing it for kind of for the betterment of their communities and countries, and so we couldn't be happier with this makeup of the first crew because of their drive and their interest.
Each of these first paying customers intends to perform science research in orbit, he said, along with educational outreach.
Each of the private astronauts had to pass medical tests and will get 15 weeks of training, according to Suffredini. The 70-year-old Connor will become the second-oldest person to fly in space, after John Glenn's shuttle flight in 1998 at age 77. He'll also serve under Lopez-Alegria as the capsule pilot.
Axiom plans about two private missions a year to the space station. It also is working to launch its own live in compartments to the station beginning in 2024. This section would be detached from the station once it's retired by NASA and the international partners, and become its own private outpost.