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SpaceX capsule docks with ISS with an all-private crew of astronauts

SpaceX’s historic capsule, carrying the first fully private astronaut team, successfully docked with the International Space Station on Saturday.

The crew of three wealthy entrepreneurs and a retired NASA astronaut were welcomed aboard the orbiting research platform about 9 p.m. after taking off Friday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Docking was reported complete at 8:41 a.m. ET.

Their arrival kicked off a week-long science mission that is being hailed as a huge achievement in commercial spaceflight.

The Crew Dragon capsule’s docking was delayed approximately 45 minutes by a technical issue with a video feed used to monitor the capsule’s rendezvous with the ISS, but the mission was otherwise smooth. .

The multinational team representing Houston-based start-up Axiom Space Inc. plans to spend eight days in orbit. It is headed by Spanish-born retired NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, 63, the company’s vice president of business development.

The other three businessmen reportedly paid $55 million each for the trip.

The SpaceX crew was the first fully private astronaut team launched to the ISS.
NASA television

Larry Connor, a real estate and technology entrepreneur and aerobatic aviator from Ohio, is second in command and serves as mission pilot. He is 70 years old.

The remaining crew of the Axe-1 includes Israeli investor-philanthropist and former fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe, 64, and Canadian businessman and philanthropist Mark Pathy, 52, both mission specialists.

The Ax-1 team was greeted by the seven regular government-paid crew members already manning the space station, which includes three American astronauts.

SpaceX capsule docks with ISS with an all-private crew of astronauts
The crew includes retired NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and three private businessmen who paid $55 million each to participate in the flight.
SpaceX via AP

A NASA webcast showed the four wide-eyed, smiling Axiom astronauts dressed in navy blue flight suits floating headfirst, one by one, through the portal leading to the space station. Once inside, they were greeted with hugs and handshakes by the ISS crew.

Lopez-Alegria then pinned astronaut wings to the uniforms of her Axiom team’s three spaceflight recruits during a brief welcome ceremony.

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New York Post

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