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First space tourism mission arrives at International Space Station

The first fully private space tourism mission has arrived at the International Space Station (ISS), with a SpaceX Crew Dragon carrying four private astronauts — Michael Lopez-Alegria, Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy — as part of the Axiom Mission 1.

Ax-1 Mission | In-Flight Update with the Crew

During the journey, the crew checked in via a live video feed to discuss their liftoff and their experiences of space travel so far. They began with mission commander Michael Lopez-Alegria describing the course they were taking: “We’re currently over the southern tip of South America flying in a path that will take us over the south Atlantic to Nigeria, out over around Cairo, and up into Lebanon, Syria, and then into Asia,” he said. “We’re traveling at about 8,000 meters per second, that’s a little over 17,000 miles an hour, at [an altitude of] about 415 kilometers or 240 miles or so.”

The Moon is pictured (bottom left) as the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour approaches the station with four Axiom Mission 1 astronauts.
The Moon is pictured (bottom left) as the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour approaches the station with four Axiom Mission 1 astronauts. NASA TV

Lopez-Alegria went on to say that the crew was finding the experience thrilling so far: “Launching yesterday for us was very exciting, obviously — what a ride! I think there were smiles that are still being worn by the crew this morning.”

Another crew member, Mark Pathy, also introduced Caramel, a soft toy dog who is the mascot of the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation and who served as the crew’s zero-gravity indicator. “Caramel needs to be kept on a bit of a leash because he likes to take walks or floats,” Pathy said with a smile. “Caramel, get back here.”

The crew arrived at the ISS at 8:29 a.m. ET (5:29 a.m. PT) on Saturday, April 9. The Crew Dragon docked with the ISS after a 45-minute delay due to a small issue. NASA described the problem in an update as, “an issue preventing the crew members on station from receiving views from Dragon’s center line camera of the Harmony’s modules docking port. Mission teams worked to route video using a SpaceX ground station to the crew on the space station allowing Dragon to proceed with docking.”

Now the space between the spacecraft and the ISS hatches needs to be pressurized and leak checked, and then the private crew can be welcomed onboard the ISS by the current crew there: NASA astronauts Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveev.

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