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1st private space crew, including Israeli, paying $55M each to fly to station

The first private space station crew was introduced today: Three men who are each paying $55 million to fly on a SpaceX rocket.

They’ll be led by a former NASA astronaut now working for Axiom Space, the Houston company that arranged the trip for next January.

“This is the first private flight to the International Space Station. It’s never been done before,” says Axiom’s chief executive and president Mike Suffredini, a former space station program manager for NASA.

While mission commander Michael Lopez-Alegria is well known in space circles, “the other three guys are just people who want to be able to go to space, and we’re providing that opportunity,” Suffredini says.

Axiom’s first customers include Larry Connor, a real estate and tech entrepreneur from Dayton; Ohio, Canadian financier Mark Pathy; and Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe, a close friend of Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was killed in the space shuttle Columbia accident in 2003.

Eytan Stibbe and President Reuven Rivlin bump elbows at a ceremony celebrating Stibbe’s planned trip to the International Space Station, November 16, 2020 (Mark Neyman/GPO)
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