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Israeli Millionaire paid $55 million for first private SpaceX tourism mission

The first private SpaceX tourism mission carried three millionaires, one is Eytan Stibbe, who paid $55 million each for week long trip to ISS

first private SpaceX tourism mission
This photo provided by SpaceX shows the SpaceX crew seated in the Dragon spacecraft on Friday, April 8, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Fla. SpaceX is scheduled to launch three millionaires and their astronaut escort to the International Space Station for more than a week’s stay. (SpaceX via AP)

After a 45-minute delay caused by a station technical fault, the first private SpaceX tourism mission blasted off on Friday. The Dragon spaceship docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday at approximately 8:30 a.m. ET. 

The mission codenamed AX-1, carried a veteran NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegra, vice president of Axiom Space company the company which organized the private rocket rides, and three millionaires, the Israeli Eytan Stibbe; Canadian billionaire Mark Pathy founder and CEO of Montreal’s Mavrik Corp; and Ohio aerobatics aviator and real estate magnate Larry Connor of Connor Group.

Each paid $55 million to travel to space for a 10 days science mission at the ISS.

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While private people have previously visited space in flights carried out by Virgin Galactic (owned by Richard Branson), and Blue Origin (owned by Jeff Bezos) to the International Space Station, Ax-1 is the first launch to feature an all-private crew going to the outpost aboard a private spacecraft — with NASA renting out the launch facilities.

The Axiom crew will conduct scientific research and coexist with the station’s regular crew, which now consists of three Americans and a German on the US side and three Russians, members of the European Space Agency. 

The Israeli Eytan Stibbe will conduct about 35 experiments for business and research groups. He was laden with dozens of experiments in agriculture, optics, energy, and health, including research on cancer, brain health, cardiac stem cells, and aging, mainly for the largest hospital, Sheba Medical Center, which sent a full small space lab with six experiments. He will also conduct educational and artistic activities in order to bring the young generation in Israel and around the globe to the values of innovation, social responsibility, and peace. Finally, Stibbe carries the smallest bible in existence, a 0.5 square-millimeter silicon nano-chip on which 1.2 million letters are etched.

Stibbe, 64, a former fighter pilot with a long military career with the Israel Air Force, made his fortune from various investments, some of which involve an arms trade.

Stibbe is a founding partner of Vital Capital, an impact investing fund founded in 2010 to help disadvantaged populations in developing countries.

With his wife, he launched the social benefit company Anatta, which supports social and educational initiatives.

He is the second Israeli to travel to space. Ilan Ramon Israel’s first astronaut was killed in 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded during re-entry into the atmosphere, killing all seven crew members on board.

Arriving at the space lab:

Docking confirmed! 

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 9, 2022

The first private SpaceX tourism mission was arranged by a Houston-based Axiom Space company whose mission is to schedule rocket rides, which was founded in 2016 to provide training and organize all flight details to the International Space Station for individuals. The trips are consistent with the US government’s and private sector’s goal of boosting commercial trips to the International Space Station and beyond.

Shortly after, docking the space lab López-Alegría, as commander, placed an Association of Space Explorers badge on Connor, Stibbe, and Pathy, recognizing their position as astronauts. He said ‘There’s a tradition when you pass a certain boundary you become an astronaut. That happened to these three gentlemen for the first time yesterday. Now I’d like to note it officially.

‘When I pin these on – I think the numbers are 582, 583, and 584 for Larry, Eytan, and Mark – I hope they will wear these with the pride they deserve.”

Axiom views the missions as the first steps toward a much larger objective: the construction of its own private space station. President and CEO Michael Suffredini stated that the first module is scheduled to launch in September 2024.

It will initially be linked to the International Space Station (ISS), before flying autonomously once it retires and is deorbited sometime after 2030.



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