The ISS Is Turning Into a Very Expensive Hotel, Its Latest Visitors Returned to Earth

“Thanks for visiting the International Space Station (ISS)” is not something most of us will hear during our lifetime. But a former NASA astronaut and three wealthy businessmen just managed to successfully complete the first all-private flight to our artificial satellite in the sky. They lived above us all for two weeks. It wasn’t cheap.
Ax-1 Safely Splashing Down in the Atlantic Ocean 6 photos
Photo: Axiom Space on Twitter
SpaceX Dragon CapsuleAxiom Ax-1 Crew MemberAxiom Ax-1 Crew MemberAxiom Ax-1 Crew MemberAxiom Ax-1 Crew Member
Even though the Russians sent last year the first civilians to the ISS to shoot a film for twelve days straight, they got a lot of help from the government. On the other side of the pond, Americans were ready to do the same. But here, everything worked with involvement from private entities. SpaceX, Axiom, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) worked together to make sure everything ran smoothly.

NASA made sure the visitors were healthy enough to temporarily leave Earth, SpaceX provided the rockets, while Axiom made sure everyone was happy about the endeavor. The whole thing cost the three wealthy visitors a reported $55 million each, according to AP. Living together with astronauts, seeing our planet as almost nobody else, and staying up there for more than ten days might be worth it in the end.

The crew landed safely in a SpaceX Dragon capsule. The calm Atlantic Ocean welcomed the curious and passionate people. Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe will now recover for a couple of days before resuming their normal activity.

NASA’s now looking forward to allowing more visits to the ISS before it will come back to Earth in blazing glory. The destruction of the station is set to happen in a little under a decade. The Administration wants to focus on Moon, Mars, and other similar missions, so money coming from commercial flights in Earth’s lower orbit will ease the dependency on public funds.

NASA’s Bill Nelson was particularly happy about the event as he welcomed the Axiom crew by posting a message on Twitter. He called the event a “landmark mission.”

As we’ve previously reported, the explorers were supposed to remain on the ISS for only eight days. But delays and recalculations led to a longer vacation, 248 mi (400 km) above our heads.

Even though people are paying a lot of money to enjoy this unique experience, Axiom keeps saying that all this traveling is not tourism but research. They argue that visitors were taught to help MIT researchers with their projects.

The crew of the next mission will be revealed soon. They’re scheduled to blast off from the U.S. next year. Called Ax-2, this will give Axiom and SpaceX the chance to possibly build their own space station or kickstart a partnership in this direction.

Just imagine if you could actually pay for a space vacation via a popular traveling website. Wouldn’t it be amazing?

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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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