• Axiom Space revealed the three private citizens who paid $55 million each to go to the International Space Station
  • They are American real estate investor Larry Connor, Canadian investor Mark Pathy and Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe
  • The mission will be led by a veteran NASA astronaut and is set to launch in January next year

The first customers of commercial space travel have been revealed, and each paid a jaw-dropping amount for their trip to the International Space Station (ISS) early next year.

Axiom Space, the Houston, Texas-based aerospace company that arranged the trip, said the first fully private astronaut crew comprising American real estate and tech entrepreneur Larry Connor, Canadian investor Mark Pathy and Israeli businessman and former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe is heading to the ISS in January next year aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon, the Associated Press reported.

The three each paid $55 million to join the Ax-1 mission, which will be led by a veteran NASA astronaut now working for Axiom Space.

While "fee-paying" space tourists visiting the space station is nothing new, the upcoming mission will be the first time a commercially built astronaut capsule will be used on such trips, The Verge noted.

“As the first fully private mission to go to the ISS, we feel an enormous responsibility to do it well,” mission commander Michael López-Alegría told The Verge. “We realize that this is the trend-setter, the bar-setter for the future, and so our goal is to really exceed all expectations.”

Connor, president of real estate investment company The Connor Group, is 71 and is set to become the second-oldest person to go to space after John Glenn, who flew to space in 1998 at age 77. Meanwhile, Stibbe was a close friend of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut. The latter was among the seven crew members who were killed in the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster.

Axiom’s chief executive and president Mike Suffredini, a former space station program manager for NASA, told the Associated Press that the three private citizens “are just people who want to be able to go to space.”

“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,” Suffredini added.

The crew's flight to the ISS will take about two days. They will then spend around eight days aboard the space station's U.S. segment, where they will be taking part in "research and philanthropic projects," according to a statement from Axiom.

In 2019, NASA confirmed in a press release that private stays on the space station will be quite expensive while announcing that it is opening the ISS for commercial business.

The expenses for each astronaut would include $11,250 per day to use the life support systems and toilet, $22,500 per day for all necessary crew supplies (like food, air, medical supplies and more) and $42 per kilowatt-hour for power. The Verge noted that based on these numbers, the four-man Ax-1 mission crew's upcoming eight-day stay in the ISS would cost them a total of $1.1 million.

Axiom is planning to launch two private missions each year to the ISS.

The International Space Station
The International Space Station -- seen here on August 26, 2020 -- is performing a maneuver to ensure it gets out of the way of a piece of space debris NASA / Handout