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NASA’s first paying crew on ISS: ‘We want to go to the moon!’

NASA’s first paying astronauts to visit the International Space Station (ISS) have said they would love to visit the moon next.

The four private astronauts, who arrived at the ISS on April 9 for an eight-day stay, were answering students’ questions in a special broadcast (below) from the orbiting outpost on Wednesday.

Ax-1 Astronauts speak with Houston-area students at Space Center Houston

Asked if they were up for a much more challenging lunar mission, American entrepreneur Larry Connor was quick to respond.

“The short answer is, we’re all in, we’ve actually talked about that,” Connor said. “Universally, it’s a resounding yes, so please let the folks at NASA know that Ax-1 crew is up to the challenge.”

Of course, the chances of a paying astronaut heading to the moon are currently highly remote, and goodness knows what the bill would be for such a trip considering the Ax-1 crew has each had to fork out an eye-watering $55 million for the relatively short stay aboard the space station.

Connor is traveling with fellow private astronauts Mark Pathy, a Canadian investor and philanthropist; Eytan Stibbe, a former Israeli Air Force pilot; and Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut and commander of the Ax-1 mission.

Organized by Texas-based Axiom Space and using SpaceX hardware, the mission marks the first time that NASA has sent paying astronauts to the ISS. Other paying astronauts have visited the station over the years, but those missions were organized by Roscosmos, NASA’s Russian counterpart.

Students also asked questions about what kind of meals they’re having on the ISS, how they sleep, what beautiful things they’ve observed in space, and what kind of science research they’re carrying out.

Asked what it’s like being in microgravity conditions, Pathy responded, “The nearest thing I can associate it with would be swimming, maybe, but even that’s a lot different,” noting that once you start floating, you can’t use your hands to stop yourself moving as you can in water.

At this point, to demonstrate microgravity, Connor attempts to perform a flip. But as he does so, he accidentally kicks the camera, with the unexpected calamity causing much laughter among the students watching back on Earth.

The Ax-1 team is set to return home on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on April 18.

To find out more about how astronauts live and work in space, check out these insightful videos made by former inhabitants of the ISS.

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Trevor Mogg
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