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Axiom announces first private crew paying $55 million each for trip to International Space Station

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Three men are each paying $55 million to fly on a SpaceX rocket in what has been proposed as the first entirely private spaceflight mission in human history.

Axiom Space, a Houston company, says the trip will be led by former NASA astronaut and space station commander Michael López-Alegría.

The three men, all from different countries, will spend about eight days at the International Space Station next January.

Larry Connor from America, Mark Pathy from Canada and Eytan Stibbe from Israel will travel into low-Earth orbit on the space station. They will undergo training and certification procedures required for crew members of the International Space Station.

According to Axiom, the men will all be performing research tasks while in space.

“Axiom is working with each Axionaut to design on-orbit activities that will fit their mission goals and allow them to shine a global spotlight on the causes that matter most in the world,” the Axiom Space website states.

Connor will work with the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic on research projects and he also intends to provide instructional lessons to students at Dayton Early College Academy in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

Pathy is collaborating with the Canadian Space Agency as well as the Montreal Children’s Hospital, who are helping identify health-related research projects that could be undertaken during the mission.

Stibbe plans to conduct scientific experiments of Israeli researchers and entrepreneurs coordinated by the Ramon Foundation and the Israel Space Agency to undertake educational activities from orbit to inspire Israeli children, youth and educators.

“We sought to put together a crew for this historic mission that had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the people on Earth, and I’m glad to say we’ve done that with this group,” Axiom Space President & CEO Michael Suffredini said in an Axiom press release. “This is just the first of several Axiom Space crews whose private missions to the International Space Station will truly inaugurate an expansive future for humans in space – and make a meaningful difference in the world when they return home.”

Axiom intends to arrange up to two trips per year for private and international astronauts. The company is currently building its own privately funded space station that NASA hopes may one day replace the International Space Station. When the space station retires, the Axiom modules would break off to continue in orbit on their own.

“This collection of pioneers – the first space crew of its kind – represents a defining moment in humanity’s eternal pursuit of exploration and progress,” López-Alegría said in a press release. “I know from firsthand experience that what humans encounter in space is profound and propels them to make more meaningful contributions on returning to Earth. And as much as any astronaut who has come before them, the members of this crew have accomplished the sorts of things in life that equip them to accept that responsibility, act on that revelation, and make a truly global impact.”

“I look forward to leading this crew and to their next meaningful and productive contributions to the human story, both on orbit and back home.”

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VP Kamala Harris publicly mourns Palestinians killed in hostage rescue operation

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Vice President Kamala Harris mourned the Palestinians in Gaza who were killed in the successful Israeli hostage rescue operation this weekend during an address delivered over the weekend.

Israeli forces say Hamas intentionally kept the hostages in a “civilian environment.” They also said even the Palestinians who were holding the hostages were also “civilians.”

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari of the IDF said Hamas has been holding hostages inside civilian buildings, including the locations where Israeli forces rescued Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Shlomi Ziv, 41, and Andrey Kozlov, 27.

“Before I begin, I just say a few words about the morning which I know weighs heavily on all of our hearts,” she said.

“On Oct. 7, Hamas committed a brutal massacre of 1,200 innocent people and abducted 250 hostages,” she continued. “Thankfully, four of those hostages were reunited with their families tonight. And we mourn all of the innocent lives that have been lost in Gaza, including those tragically killed today.”

The Israeli operation retrieved four hostages who were taken into Gaza by Hamas on Oct. 7. Harris, speaking before the Michigan Democratic Party, celebrated their retrieval but spent more time lamenting the deaths of Palestinians killed in the operation, many of whom Israel has described as terrorists.

“We have been working every day to bring an end to this conflict in a way that ensures Israel is secure, brings home all hostages, ends ongoing suffering for Palestinian people and ensures that Palestinians can enjoy their right to self-determination, dignity and freedom,” Harris added. “As President Biden said last week, it is time for this war to end.”

Fox News reports that Hamas-run authorities in Gaza claim over 270 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli operation, though they make no distinction between militants and innocents. Israeli forces claim the number was fewer than 100.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan also confirmed reports on Sunday that some number of innocents appeared to have been killed in the operation.

“We the United States are not in a position today to make a definitive statement about [the death toll],” Sullivan said in a Sunday interview with CNN. “But we do know this: innocent people were tragically killed in this operation. The exact number we don’t know, but innocent people were killed.”

“Every day that we see more innocent people lost is another horrible, awful, tragic day,” he added.

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