The four members of a private space mission are back on Earth
Steph Deschamps / April 26, 2022
Three businessmen, accompanied by a former NASA astronaut, landed Monday off the coast of Florida aboard a SpaceX spacecraft, after spending more than two weeks on the International Space Station.
The capsule touched the Atlantic Ocean at 13H06 local. Its vertiginous descent was slowed down by its entry in the atmosphere, then by huge parachutes. To all those who supported us through the world, you made an incredible work, it was an incredible mission, declared the American Larry Connor, one of the passengers, from the capsule still tossed by the sea.
Named Ax-1, this mission was the first entirely private mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The American company Axiom Space bought the means of transport from SpaceX, and paid Nasa for the use of its station.
Many were scanning this mission just to see if it was practical, Derek Hassmann, director of operations for Axiom Space, said at a press conference. Can you train them in a short amount of time? Prepare them for a mission that has minimal impact on the ISS crew? I think we've proven that it can be done.
The four men -- three clients who paid tens of millions of dollars each, and former Spanish-American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria -- took off on April 8 from Florida. They arrived in the ISS the next day, where they were initially scheduled to spend only eight days. But their return had to be postponed several times because of bad weather conditions. They finally spent 15 days in the ISS, and 17 in orbit. No additional costs were charged.
Larry Connor, head of a real estate company, the Canadian Mark Pathy, head of an investment company, and the former Israeli pilot Eytan Stibbe, co-founder of an investment fund, refuse to be considered as space tourists. They have indeed carried out, they argue, a whole series of experiments on board the ISS, in partnership with research centers. This work has focused on aging and heart health.
They will also spend the next few days in Orlando, where data on their health will be collected. The goal is to study the effect of space stays on the human body, by comparing them to the data collected before their trip. The experience accumulated thanks to Ax-1 was a crucial first step, according to Axiom Space managers, to lay the groundwork for the multiple missions to come.