On Tuesday, Jan. 26, the private aerospace company Axiom Space, Inc., said that it would be embarking on the world’s first privately funded and operated trip to the International Space Station. Axiom announced the news by revealing it had sold each of its three $55 million tickets to an equal number of customers, none of whom are astronauts.

The three customers are reported to be:

  • 71-year-old American entrepreneur Larry Connor, the CEO of real estate-focused investment firm The Connor Group
  • 51-year-old Mark Pathy of Canada, the CEO of the investment firm Mavrik and the chairman of media conglomerate Stingray Group
  • 63-year-old Eytan Stibbe of Israel, the founding director of the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association (EMPEA)

How Monumental Is This Expedition, Exactly?

The first section of the International Space Station was launched into low Earth orbit in late 1998. Since the RSA’s and NASA’s first manned flight to the ISS in late 2000, a total of 242 people have successfully flown to the International Space Station across 396 flights.

Space agencies and private companies such as SpaceX have successfully launched thousands of satellites, space shuttles, and telescopes that still send transmissions from many millions of miles away.

Despite this, private spaceflight is still in its infancy. Even though SpaceX has successfully launched its Falcon 9 rockets into space 107 times out of 109 total attempts, the company has only sent one payload to the International Space Station.

Understanding Axiom’s Upcoming Trip

Axiom noted that the earliest date of its planned spaceflight is Jan. 2022. The company will board its trio of paying clients onto a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The mission will be led by a one-time NASA astronaut, Michael Lopez-Alegria, who’s currently employed by Axiom Space.