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What to Know as Financiers Fly SpaceX to Space Station on $55 Million Tickets

It’s a milestone for NASA, which has been working to create a WeWork of industrial parks in low Earth orbit.

Axiom Mission 1 astronauts.
Axiom Mission 1 astronauts.Source: SpaceX

SpaceX is heading to the International Space Station with its first all-private astronaut crew organized by Axiom Space, a startup building a  commercial space station to replace the current one, which is expected to be decommissioned by the end of the decade.

It’s a milestone for NASA, which has been working with companies like Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef and Nanoracks’ Starlab, to create a WeWork of industrial parks in low Earth orbit to encourage space travel.

The Ax-1 mission is being led by retired NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, who’s also Axiom’s vice president of business development. His crewmates are three financiers: Larry Connor of the U.S., Canada’s Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe from Israel. Each paid about $55 million for their ticket, Axiom cofounder Kam Ghaffarian confirmed in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Thursday. The 10-day adventure includes commercial activities, lab experiments, and gourmet food created by celebrity chef Jose Andres.

Demand has been high, with the company having sold spots on the next two missions, Ghaffarian said. “We’re now trying to sell some seats on Ax-4.”

How to watch

Liftoff is set for Friday at 11:17 a.m. local time in Florida from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, with a backup launch planned for Saturday at 10:54 a.m. The mission, originally scheduled for Feb. 21, was delayed several times due to missed launch windows.