The 1st private astronaut mission to International Space Station is back on Earth


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SpaceX/AP

SpaceX/AP

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Three rich businessmen returned from the International Space Station with their astronaut escort Monday, wrapping up a costly trip that marked NASA ‘s debut as a B & B host. Flying bet on in a SpaceX ejection seat, they splashed devour in the Atlantic off the Florida coast to close out a 17-day tour that cost them $ 55 million each. The trip was supposed to last a little over a week, but dicey weather kept the visitors in orbit about doubly adenine long as intended. “ Welcome back to planet earth, ” radioed SpaceX Mission Control from Southern California. “ We hope you enjoyed the excess few days in space. ” “ amazing mission, ” said real estate baron Larry Connor. Before departing the distance place Sunday night, the group thanked their seven hosts, including three NASA astronauts whose own mission is nearing an end. It was the first time NASA opened its space hatches to tourists after shunning the practice perfected over the decades by Russia. last fall, a russian movie crew flew up, followed by a japanese fashion mogul and his adjunct. In each lawsuit, an active-duty astronaut traveled with them .

The latest guests were accompanied by a former NASA astronaut now working for Axiom Space, the Houston caller in charge of the flight, making it the first in full private tripper to the distance station.

After hosting longer than expected, NASA was itching to make room for the future crew. SpaceX will attempt to launch three NASA astronauts and one italian to the outer space station vitamin a soon as Wednesday. They ‘ll replace the three Americans and a german up there since November who will head back to Earth in their own SpaceX capsule. The pace is blazingly firm by NASA standards. SpaceX ‘s Benji Reed said the caller launched its beginning passengers — a copulate of NASA examination pilots — two years ago and good completed its first secret flight using the same capsule. Axiom handled the logistics for the trip for its three paying customers : Connor from Dayton, Ohio ; canadian secret equity CEO Mark Pathy ; and Israeli investor Eytan Stibbe of Tel Aviv. Their chaperon was Michael Lopez-Alegria, an Axiom frailty president who flew to space four times while a NASA astronaut. It was an “ perplex adventure that we ‘ve had, even longer and more exciting than we thought, ” Lopez-Alegria said after departing the space station .

Axiom teamed up with SpaceX for the travel that began with an April 8 liftoff from NASA ‘s Kennedy Space Center. It was SpaceX ‘s second private flight, coming just months after a billionaire ‘s orbital travel with contest winners. While in space, the visitors did experiments and peered back at Earth. “ It ‘s been eye-opening in thus many ways, ” Pathy said, “ that I think will have such a lasting impingement on my biography. ” The have was specially personal for Stibbe. He served as a fighter navigate under Ilan Ramon, Israel ‘s first astronaut who died aboard space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Stibbe flew copies of the surviving pages of Ramon ‘s distance diary, a well as artwork and music created by Ramon ‘s children. He celebrated Passover with matzo bread he took up and gefilte fish offered by the station ‘s Russians.

Axiom ‘s moment flight is set for future bounce as the company looks ahead to having its own outer space station by 2030. “ There were a lot of eyes on this deputation precisely to see if it was virtual, ” Derek Hassmann, Axiom ‘s operations director, said after the splashdown. “ Everybody understood it was possible, ” but wondered if amateurs could pull this off with abridge educate, without disturbing the space post crew. “ I think we proved we could do that, ” Hassmann said .

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