SpaceX launches 3 businessmen to the space station for $55 million each

Visitor tickets to the International Space Station include access to all parts of the facility, except the Russian part, and cover all meals and accommodation, for a stay of 9-10 days.

Every visitor has a full list of experiences to conduct during their stay at the resort. (AP)

SpaceX has launched three wealthy businessmen and their escort of astronauts to the International Space Station for a stay of more than a week, as NASA joins Russia in welcoming guests to the most expensive tourist destination of the world.

Friday’s launch is the second private charter for SpaceX from Elon Musk, who took a billionaire and his guests into a three-day orbit last year.

Arriving at the space station on Saturday will be an American, a Canadian and an Israeli who run investment, real estate and other companies. They pay $55 million each for the rocket flight and accommodation, all meals included.

Private company Axiom Space arranged the visit with NASA for its three paying customers: Larry Connor of Dayton, Ohio, who runs the Connor Group; Mark Pathy, founder and CEO of Mavrik Corp. from Montreal; and Israeli Eytan Stibbe, founding partner of Vital Capital.

Russia has welcomed tourists to the space station – and before that to the Mir station – for decades.

NASA is finally getting in on the act, after years of opposing visitors to the space station.

Visitors’ tickets include access to everything except the Russian part of the space station – they will need permission from the three cosmonauts on board.

READ MORE: US-Russian tensions over Ukraine orbiting in space

Not just space tourists?

SpaceX and NASA have been candid with them about the risks of spaceflight, said chaperone and former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who spent seven months on the space station 15 years ago.

“There’s no blurring, I think, of what the dangers are or what bad days might look like,” Lopez-Alegria said before the flight.

Every visitor has a full list of experiences to complete during their nine to ten days there, one of the reasons they don’t like to be called space tourists.

“They’re not here to stick their noses out the window,” said Axiom co-founder and president Michael Suffredini, a former NASA space station program manager.

The three businessmen are the last to take advantage of the opening of space to the richest. Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin takes customers on 10-minute rides to the far reaches of space, while Virgin Galactic plans to start flying customers on its rocket later this year.

Axiom is targeting next year for its second private flight to the space station. More customer travel will follow, with Axiom adding its own rooms to the orbiting resort from 2024.

READ MORE:
In a first, the SpaceX rocket soars into space with an all-civilian crew

Source: AP