WASHINGTON, Apr 25, 2022 (AFP) – Three businessmen and a former NASA astronaut landed this Monday (25) in Florida waters aboard a SpaceX spacecraft, after 15 days on the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a private mission.
The capsule and its four passengers landed around 1:00 pm local time (14:00 GMT) after a dizzying descent, slowed by entry into the atmosphere and huge parachutes.
A SpaceX vessel will pick them up in the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville.
This mission, called Ax-1, was organized by the American company Axiom Space and was the first completely private mission to go to the ISS.
Axiom purchased SpaceX’s means of transport 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 there.
However, his departure was delayed several times last week due to bad weather conditions. They ended up spending 15 days on the ISS and 17 in total in orbit.
“Thanks again for all the support during this adventure, which lasted longer and was even more exciting than expected,” said Michael López-Alegría, mission commander, 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 firm; and former Israeli pilot Eytan Stibbe, co-founder of an investment fund.
All four refuse to be considered “space tourists”.
They claim to have carried out a series of experiments aboard the ISS, in collaboration with research centers and universities, on aging and heart health, among other topics.
Canadian Mark Pathy also spent a lot of time at the famous observation dome on the ISS to photograph the Earth, according to the station’s logbook, published on a NASA blog.