The latest tropical cruise tour launched from the US, Inspiration4, was chartered by Jared Isaacman, a billionaire who decided to give opportunities to three people who couldn’t afford the trip for themselves. By contrast, each space traveler in Axiom pushes its own way.
Larry Connor, managing partner of The Connor Group, a company in Dayton, Ohio, that owns and operates luxury apartments;
Mark Bathy, CEO of Mavrik, a Canadian investment firm;
and Eitan Stipe, an investor and former pilot in the Israeli Air Force.
The three did not know each other before.
Derek Hassmann, Axiom’s director of operations, said that while professional Russian cosmonauts were accompanied by previous passengers to the space station, the Axiom-1 mission “is very different in that the entire crew is not affiliated with any government.”
The commander of the space station flight will be Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut who is now the vice president of Axiom. Mr. Lopez Alegria flew on three space shuttle missions and then served as Space Station Commander from September 2006 to April 2007.
“When I left NASA 10 years ago, I became a staunch advocate and believer in commercial spaceflight in general and human commercial spaceflight in particular,” Mr. Lopez Allegria said during a press conference last month.
Mr. Connor’s past exploits include a deep-sea submarine voyage into the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean, more than 35,000 feet below the surface in the Mariana Trench; Aerobatic competitions. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
During the press conference, Mr. Connor objected to being called a space tourist.
“Space tourists,” he said, “will spend 10 or 15 hours training five to 10 minutes in space.” “And by the way, that’s fine. In our case, depending on our role, we spent 750 to over 1,000 hours training.”
Mr. Connor also referred to the scientific experiments that he and his colleagues will be conducting.
Mr. Pathé is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Stingray Group, a Montreal-based media and entertainment company, and serves on the boards of several charitable organizations. “I always wanted to go to space as a kid,” he said. “It’s always been an elusive fantasy.”
A friend of Mr. Pathé’s told him about Axiom’s private spaceflight missions. “That conversation challenged me to make this dream a reality,” he said.
Mr. Stibbe founded Vital Capital, a private equity fund that aims to improve housing, water, electricity and healthcare in developing countries while making money for investors. He knew Ilan Ramon, another Israeli Air Force pilot who became an astronaut and died when the space shuttle Columbia crashed upon its return to Earth in 2003.
“He was a good friend,” said Mr. Stipe. He was my squadron leader. And I had the opportunity to visit him while he was training.”
Mr. Stipe said he would continue an experiment that Mr. Ramon had begun that involved observing thunderstorms. It will also take some of the diary pages that Mr. Ramon kept while in orbit in Colombia and later found on Earth.