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3 billionaires return to the International Space Station from NASA’s first tourist flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WNCN) — A four-person space crew, consisting of an astronaut and three others, who each spent $55 million on their seat, splashed down off the coast of Florida on Monday, marking some firsts in space history.

The flight, which took off on April 8, marked the first time NASA had opened its space hatches to tourists. One of the billionaires on board, Israeli investor Eytan Stibbe, also made history as the second Israeli to ever go into space.

The experience was particularly personal for Stibbe, as he served as a fighter pilot under Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut. Ilan was one of seven crew members who died in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

The entire crew consisted of Stibbe and his fellow billionaires Mark Pathy, a Canadian private equity CEO, and Larry Connor, an American real estate magnate. Chauffeured into space was Michael Lopez-Alegria, an Axiom vice president who flew four times in his tenure as a NASA astronaut.

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Their stay on the International Space Station was originally intended to last just over a week, but dicey weather kept them in orbit almost twice as long as intended.

After their 17-day journey, AP reports that host aerospace company SpaceX is already itching to prepare for its next mission — bringing three NASA astronauts and an Italian to the space station as early as Wednesday.

“The pace is lightning fast by NASA standards. “It’s absolutely exciting,” NASA flight director Zeb Scoville told the Associated Press.

This next crew of four will replace the three Americans and one German who have been aboard the ISS since November and return to Earth in their own SpaceX capsule.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

https://www.cbs17.com/news/international-news/3-billionaires-return-from-nasas-first-tourist-flight-to-the-international-space-station/ 3 billionaires return to the International Space Station from NASA’s first tourist flight

DUSTIN JONES

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