(ORDO NEWS) — A SpaceX capsule carrying three paying customers and a former NASA astronaut has arrived at the International Space Station, completing the first phase of this first-of-its-kind mission that will last about 10 days.
The mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday. The spacecraft, which separated from the rocket after reaching orbit, spent about 20 hours in free orbit, maneuvering closer to the ISS.
The trip was organized by Houston-based Axiom Space, based in Houston, Texas, which aims to book flights on the rocket, provide all necessary training, and coordinate flights to the ISS for anyone who can afford it.
All this is in line with the goals of the US government and the private sector to expand commercial activity on the ISS and beyond.
On board this mission, called AX-1, are Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut turned Axiom employee who commands the mission; Israeli businessman Eitan Stibbe; Canadian investor Mark Paty; and Ohio real estate mogul Larry Connor.
After arriving at the ISS aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, they joined seven professional astronauts already aboard the space station, including three NASA astronauts, a German astronaut and three Russian cosmonauts.
This is not the first time paying customers or other non-cosmonauts have visited the ISS, as Russia has sold seats on Soyuz spacecraft to various wealthy thrill-seekers in the past.
But this is the first mission whose crew consists entirely of private individuals, without active participation in the state lists of astronauts. It is also the first time that private individuals have traveled to the ISS on a US-made spacecraft.
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