Safe return: Members of the first private mission to the International Space Station returned to Earth

The AX-1 mission, carried out in collaboration between SpaceX and Axiom , successfully returned to Earth after spending a few days on the International Space Station.


Three businessmen and a former NASA astronaut splashed down this Monday in Florida waters aboard a SpaceX ship , after spending 15 days on the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a private mission. The capsule and its four passengers splashed down around 1:00 p.m. local time (5:00 p.m. GMT) after a vertiginous descent, slowed down by its entry into the atmosphere and by huge parachutes.

SpaceX ship will pick them up in the Atlantic Ocean off Jacksonville. Named Ax-1, this mission organized by the American company Axiom Space is the first completely private mission to go to the ISS.

Axiom purchased the means of transportation from SpaceX and paid NASA for the use of its station. The four crew members — three customers who paid tens of millions of dollars each and former Spanish-American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegría — took off on April 8 from Florida.

They arrived at the ISS the next day and were only supposed to spend eight days on it. But his departure had to be postponed several times last week due to bad weather conditions. In the end they spent 15 days on the ISS and 17 in total in orbit. “Thank you again for all the support during this adventure, which lasted longer and was even more exciting than expected,” Michael López-Alegría, mission commander, said as he departed.

Next to him were the American Larry Connor, at the head of a real estate company; Canadian Mark Pathy, head of an investment company; and former Israeli pilot Eytan Stibbe, co-founder of an investment fund. All four refuse to be considered “space tourists”.

They allege that they have carried out a series of experiments on board the ISS, in collaboration with research centers and universities, on aging or heart health, among other topics. Canadian Mark Pathy has also spent a lot of time in the famous observation dome of the ISS, to photograph the Earth, according to the station’s logbook, published in a NASA blog.

With information from AFP