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Brightly burning meteor seen across wide areas of Japan – EverythingGP



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Explained: Three men are paying $50mn each to travel to the ISS. All about the mission – The Indian Express



A former Israeli fighter pilot, an American technology entrepreneur and a Canadian investor will be part of the crew of the first entirely-private orbital space mission. The three men are paying a whopping $55 million each to fly aboard a SpaceX rocket for an eight-day visit to the International Space Station, organised by Houston-based spaceflight firm Axiom.

“These guys are all very involved and doing it for kind of for the betterment of their communities and countries, and so we couldn’t be happier with this makeup of the first crew because of their drive and their interest,” Axiom’s chief executive and president Mike Suffredini told the Associated Press. The mission will be led by former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, who now works for Axiom space.

What do we know about the mission?

The Axiom Mission 1 (AX 1) flight is being arranged under a commercial agreement with NASA. While private citizens have travelled to space before, the AX 1 mission will be the first to use a commercially built spacecraft, the SpaceX Dragon 2, best known for flying its first two crews to the ISS late last year.

Elon Musks’ SpaceX is scheduled to launch the all-private crew no earlier than in January next year. After lifting off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the crew will take about a day or two to arrive at the ISS and will then proceed to spend eight days there, AP reported.

But Axiom insists that the mission is by no means a vacation. The three men will participate in research and philanthropic projects alongside the astronauts from all over the world who are already stationed at the ISS.

What training will the crew receive?

Axiom chief executive Suffredini told AP that the private astronauts will have to pass medical tests and also undergo 15 weeks of rigorous training before their trip to space.

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Who are the three men paying to fly to the space station?

Larry Connor

The American real estate investor and technology entrepreneur is the head of the Connor Group, an Ohio-based real estate firm worth over $3 billion in assets. The 70-year-old will be the second-oldest person to fly to space and will be serving as the capsule pilot under Lopez-Alegria.

According to Axiom, he will be collaborating with Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic on research projects at the ISS. He also plans to provide instructional lessons to students at Dayton Early College Academy in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

Mark Pathy

Pathy, 50, is the CEO and Chairman of MAVRIK Corp, a privately-owned investment and financing company. The Canadian is also the chairperson of the board of Stingray Group, a Montreal-based music company. An active philanthropist, he serves on the board of the Pathy Family Foundation and is also a board member of both Dans la Rue and the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. He will be the 11th Canadian astronaut in space.

Pathy is collaborating with the Canadian Space Agency and the Montreal Children’s Hospital, who are helping identify health-related research projects that could be undertaken during the mission, Axiom said in a statement.

Eytan Stibbe

Stibbe, the founder of Vital Capital Fund and a former fighter pilot, will be the second Israeli to be launched into space. He is also a founder and board member of the Center for African Studies at Ben-Gurion University and is on the board of several NGOs working specifically to develop education, art and culture.

The first Israeli to go to space was Ilan Ramon, who died onboard the space shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated as it re-entered the atmoshphere in 2003. Ramon was a close personal friend of Stibbe’s.

Who is the mission commander Michael Lopez-Alegria?

The former Spanish astronaut has participated in four space flights and logged over 257 days in space. He was a member of NASA’s astronaut corps for over two decades. He has performed 10 spacewalks, totalling 67 hours and 40 minutes of Extravehicular activity (EVA), according to NASA.

Lopez-Alegria joined Axiom in 2017 and now serves as the company’s Vice President of Business Development.

Is this the first time civilians have been launched into space?

No, private civilians have travelled to the space station before. Since 2001, Russia has been selling rides to the ISS to wealthy businessmen around the world. They travelled onboard the Russian Soyuz aircraft along with professional cosmonauts and NASA astronauts.

Until 2019, NASA did not permit ordinary citizens to be launched into space from American soil. It finally reversed its stance, stating that the missions would help spur growth in the commercial space industry, the Washington Post reported.

Several other space companies, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, also plan to take paying customers to space in the near future. But these up-and-down flights will last mere minutes, AP reported.

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Spacewalking astronauts encounter cable trouble while hooking up European lab – Firstpost



Spacewalking astronauts encountered cable trouble Wednesday while attempting to make improvements to the International Space Station’s European lab. Only one of the two lab upgrades was completely successful. NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover installed a new antenna on Columbus, one of three high-tech labs at the orbiting outpost. It took a few tries by scientists in Europe to get it turned on properly. No longer needed, the boxy antenna cover was thrown overboard.

“Here we go. Countdown: 3-2-1,” Glover radioed as he heaved it safely away from the space station.

NASA astronaut Victor Glover dons his spacesuit and gets ready to exit the ISS for a spacewalk. Image credit: Twitter @Astro_Jessica

Elsewhere on the lab, Glover could not hook up all the power and data cables on a science research platform that’s been awaiting activation for almost a year. He managed to hook up four of six cables. They checked out well with power flowing, enabling partial use of the platform.

But connectors on two cables would not close all the way, and those had to be capped. Engineers will try to come up with a work-around for a future spacewalk, so the entire platform can house experiments.

SpaceX delivered the platform named Bartolomeo to the space station last spring. The shelf was installed with the station’s robot arm but had to wait until Wednesday’s spacewalk to get hooked up.

Airbus, which built and runs Bartolomeo, is looking to sell space on the platform for private research projects. It’s Europe’s first commercial venture outside the station.

Danish astronaut Andreas Morgensen guided the spacewalkers from Mission Control in Houston, where controllers wore masks and were seated apart because of the pandemic. The spacewalk lasted seven hours.

Hopkins and Glover will perform a second spacewalk on Monday to complete battery upgrades to the station’s solar power grid. The latest spacewalk was the third for Hopkins and first for Glover.

They are part of SpaceX’s second astronaut flight that launched in November. Their docked Dragon capsule was visible on NASA TV during the spacewalk.

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First Private Crew Will Visit Space Station. The Price Tag: $55 Million Each – KCCU



A crew of private astronauts will pay around $55 million each to spend about eight days at the International Space Station next January in what would be a new step for joint private-public space missions. Axiom Space, a Houston company, says the trip will be led by former NASA astronaut and space station commander Michael López-Alegría.

The proposed Ax-1 mission will use a SpaceX rocket to put three paying customers — American Larry Connor, Canadian Mark Pathy and Israeli Eytan Stibbe – into low-Earth orbit on the space station. All of the trio are wealthy entrepreneurs and investors. The group will be under the command of López-Alegría, who is now an executive at Axiom.

It would be the first time an entirely private mission sends astronauts to the International Space Station. Russia sold the first ride to the station to a private citizen, American businessman Dennis Tito, in 2001.

All of the private astronauts for the upcoming mission are far older than the average NASA astronaut’s age of 34. The space agency does not have age restrictions for astronaut candidates, who generally range from 26 to 46 years old. At 70, Connor is surpassed in age only by John Glenn, who flew on the space shuttle when he was 77.

Under NASA’s rules for private astronaut missions, Axiom must ensure its astronauts meet the space agency’s medical standards. They must also undergo training and certification procedures required for crew members of the International Space Station.

While the paying customers represent a new era of space tourism, they will also perform research as the space station whizzes over the Earth.

Connor will work with the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic on research projects, Axiom says, while Pathy will collaborate with the Canadian Space Agency and the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Stibbe plans to do experiments for Israeli researchers, working with the Ramon Foundation and Israel’s space agency.

“We sought to put together a crew for this historic mission that had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the people on Earth, and I’m glad to say we’ve done that with this group,” Axiom Space President and CEO Michael Suffredini said as the company announced the crew.

Similar missions are planned for the future, Suffredini said. Axiom hopes to arrange up to two trips per year — and the company also wants to build its own privately funded space station. Under that plan, its modules would be attached to the space station as soon as 2024. And when the space station is retired, the Axiom modules would break off to continue in orbit on their own.

NASA announced its plans to open the International Space Station to commercial activities in June 2019, saying it wants businesses to use innovation and ingenuity to speed up development of “a thriving commercial economy in low-Earth orbit.”

The space agency has a plan to recoup the steep costs of a private citizen visiting the space station. Its pricing policy lists expenses such as a daily fee of $11,250 per person for “regenerative life support and toilet” and $22,500 per person for crew supplies such as food and air. The price sheet also includes a data plan, priced at $50 per gigabyte.

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