First All-Civilian Crew Launches Into Space

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First All-Civilian Crew Launches Into Space
The Axiom mission in a SpaceX capsule is the latest in a trend for space exploration — civilian astronauts flown by private companies.

A launch to the International Space Station has never looked quite like this. 

Three paying customers and a professional astronaut left Florida aboard a SpaceX capsule. It's the first-ever all-civilian crew to visit the ISS 

Proof the crew reached zero gravity? A stuffed animal floating around the cabin. 

After separating from the crew capsule, the reusable SpaceX booster made picture-perfect landing. 

Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria is commanding the mission for a company called Axiom Space.  Entrepreneur Larry Connor is the pilot. Two wealthy businessmen, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe, join them on the station for an eight-day stay. Axiom says they'll be busy with scientific research. Axiom says, just don't call them tourists. 

"Our guys aren't going up there and floating around for eight days taking pictures and looking out of the cupola. I mean, we have a very intensive and research-oriented timeline planned for them," Axiom Space Operations Director Derek Hassman said. 

The Axiom mission is the latest in a trend for space exploration — civilian astronauts flown by private companies. 

"This is all part of making humans a spacefaring civilization, of taking life on this planet across the stars, eventually," SpaceX Human Spaceflight Senior Director Benji Reed said.

Another space first, on the path to making the extraordinary ordinary. 

And of course the big question: How much did the paying customers have to fork over for a week-long stay on the space station and back? According to The Associated Press, $55 million each.