Canadian joins private crew bound for International Space Station

A Montreal businessman will join the first fully private space crew set to launch in just a few days.

Mark Pathy, entrepreneur and CEO of the investing and financing company MAVRIK, will serve as a mission specialist for Axiom Space, which on April 6 at 12:05 p.m. EDT will launch members of its Ax-1 crew from Florida to the International Space Station.

Pathy and three others will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and travel to and from the space station in a Dragon spacecraft.

“This close to launch, it’s really exciting,” he said during a press conference on April 1.

“It’s been a really, at times, very intense year but incredibly stimulating, and the best is yet to come.”

Along with research, their 10-day mission, including eight days aboard the International Space Station, will include outreach and commercial activities, the company says.

Once in space, Pathy will join the likes of other private citizens from Canada who have made a similar journey. They include Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté, the first private citizen from Quebec to go to space a decade ago, and Montreal native William Shatner of Star Trek fame who last year took a ride on a rocket built by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Among those joining Pathy is fellow entrepreneur Larry Connor, a 72-year-old Ohio native and real estate investor, who will serve as mission pilot.

“Somebody said to me, ‘You’ll be the second oldest person ever to go into outer space,'” he said. “And my response, which they already knew, ‘Well, I think age is overrated.'”

The three private citizens of the spaceflight are rumoured to have paid as much as US$55 million for a ticket.

Joining them is former NASA astronaut, Ax-1 mission commander Michael Lopez-Alegria.

“Back in the 1920s and ’30s only very, very wealthy people could fly. Now people get on an airplane to go to a birthday party … that’s going to happen in commercial human spaceflight,” he said.

Axiom Space president and CEO Michael Suffredini said they are “very, very excited about this first flight.”

On top of the upcoming mission, the Houston-based company plans to build a commercial replacement to the International Space Station, which is due to retire by the end of 2030.

“This is our very first mission of probably hundreds of missions to come over the next several decades, as we build the Axiom Space station,” Suffredini said.

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