The first crew of private astronauts to visit the International Space Station successfully returned to Earth and crashed off the coast of Florida shortly after 1 p.m. ET. Their return marks the end of a 15-day mission to the ISS, a journey that reportedly cost the crew $55 million per ticket.
This mission, called Ax-1, was the first manned spaceflight mission for Axiom Space, a private space company that plans to build commercial space stations in the future. Axiom signed a contract with SpaceX to send a crew of four to the International Space Station on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, calling it a harbinger of the mission to prepare to send humans to Axiom’s space stations in the future.
The Ax-1 crew’s visit to the space station would last just eight days, and their itinerary was filled with 25 science experiments conducted on board. However, their return trip home was continually delayed due to the bad weather around Florida and the capsule’s potential landing zones. As a result, the crew stayed nearly a week longer than originally planned before finally being released into SpaceX’s Crew Dragon on Sunday, April 24.
The crew of the Ax-1 included Canadian investor Mark Pathy, American real estate investor Larry Connor and former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe. Their crew commander was former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, who is now vice president at Axiom.