Last Friday, SpaceX launched the first crew of all-private astronauts on a trip to the International Space Station (ISS). The crew arrived at the ISS at 10:13 a.m. EDT, on Saturday, April 9 and this marked the first all-private mission to the orbital space station, in addition to the first crewed mission from Axiom Space (Ax-1), according to a blog released by NASA on Saturday.
Although, it's not the first time paying customers have reached the ISS. (Russia has previously sold seats on its Soyuz spacecraft.) It is, however, the first time a mission is composed of a crew entirely made up of private citizens with no real astronauts. It's also the first time such a mission has taken place on a US-made spacecraft.
A very pricey trip
The crew on this mission consists of Michael Lopez-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut turned Axiom employee who is heading the mission; Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe; American real estate magnate Larry Connor; and Canadian investor Mark Pathy.
The new crew is joining Expedition 67 crew members, including NASA astronauts Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveev.
In a press conference last year, Axiom stated that the price of each seat would be in the "tens of millions." This is because everything in space is hyper-expensive.
Feeding one person on the ISS costs $2,000 per day while securing provisions to and from the space station is a whopping $88,000 to $164,000 per person, per day. And when it comes to procuring the necessary support for space dwellers from NASA those numbers increase by several millions.
Astronauts or tourists
The question that is on everyone's mind now is whether the space travelers will be considered astronauts or tourists. Will they be able to get the commercial astronaut wings — a relatively new designation handed out by the Federal Aviation Administration?
Earlier this month, Lopez-Alegría told reporters that the Axiom mission was very different from the brief supersonic flights put on by Jeff Bezos' company Blue Origin.
"This mission is very different from what you may have heard of in some of the recent — especially suborbital — missions. We are not space tourists. I think there's an important role for space tourism, but it is not what Axiom is about."
Do you believe these space passengers deserve to acquire the commercial astronaut wings?