First private astronaut mission to space station readies for launch

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By Steve Gorman (Reuters) -The International Space Station (ISS) is set to become busier than usual this week when its crew welcomes aboard four new colleagues from Houston-based startup Axiom Space, the first all-private astronaut team ever flown to the orbiting outpost. The launch is being hailed by the company, NASA and other industry players as a turning point in the latest expansion of commercial space ventures collectively referred to by insiders as the low-Earth orbit economy, or “LEO economy” for short. Weather permitting, Axiom’s four-man team will lift off on Friday at the earliest f…

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