The crew on a SpaceX capsule is now safely aboard the International Space Station for a 10-day mission that Axiom hopes will be the first of many private space excursions.
The three businessmen and a former NASA astronaut launched Friday from the Kennedy Space Center and, after a brief video routing issue, completed docking at the ISS around 8:41 a.m. on Saturday.
Eytan Stibbe, Mark Pathy, Larry Connor and Michael Lopez-Alegría, former NASA astronaut and mission commander, disembarked from their spacecraft and were warmly welcomed by the crew of seven already on the ISS.
"Words don’t describe it. I’m thrilled and honored to be up here," Conner said. "We understand there is a responsibility and the responsibility for this first civilian crew is to get it right."
During a video conference Stibbe, Pathy and Connor all received pins for becoming part of the exclusive club of astronauts, which now totals 584 people from 38 countries.
"I’d like to thank our hosts here at the ISS for the warm welcome. It was really great to be looking up through the closed hatch to see you guys making your way to us and then to come onboard and be so warmly greeted by all of you," Pathy said.
Each businessman paid $55 million to take part in the AX-1 mission, which will conduct research and demonstrations during their brief stay aboard the ISS.
After eight days, the all-civilian crew will depart the space station and are expected to splash down in their SpaceX capsule off the coast of Florida.
Axiom is already planning for additional missions to the ISS and hopes to build its own space station in the coming years.