Going to space has long been an experience reserved only for people who are highly trained in specialized scientific fields. And even then, getting to actually take a ride in a spaceship required being employed by a space agency. Now, that’s about to change. The Crew Dragon from SpaceX is getting ready to take the first private citizens into space. They’re living proof that you don’t have to be trained astronauts to visit space, but you do need a thirst for adventure and really, really deep pockets.
This week, Axiom Space revealed the four crew members it has chosen for its AX-1 mission, the first ever to fly a crew entirely composed of private citizens to the International Space Station. The eight-day mission will take place in January 2022 at the earliest.
The crew will be led by Michael Lopez-Algeria, a former NASA astronaut who has been to the International Space Station four times and is now vice president of Axiom Space. He will be the mission commander, and the first person to ever command a civil and commercial human spaceflight. Larry Connor is a real estate and technology entrepreneur, with a history of racing, rafting, flying, and mountain climbing. He will be the pilot aboard the spacecraft. Mike Pathy is an investor and philanthropist, and CEO of an investment firm. Etyan Stibbe is a founding partner at an investment fund and has served in the Israelo Air Force.
These private citizens are still well versed in flying and spacecraft, as you can tell. Some will complete work duties on the journey, though it’s less of a work trip and more of a proof of concept that people who aren’t actively employed by a space agency can still travel past Earth’s atmosphere. Still, this is a big moment in the mission to making space travel an option for tourists.