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Dayton businessman makes historic launch into space

Larry Connor had already completed more than 1,000 hours of training to earn his spacesuit from NASA.

DAYTON, Ohio — A Dayton businessman and three other men become the first all-civilian, commercially-funded crew to visit the International Space Station on Friday.

“We’ve really been head down focused on training. Kind of living in the moment, one step at a time,” Larry Connor said before going into quarantine for this historic mission.

As of this week, Connor, founder and managing partner of the real estate investment firm The Connor Group, has already completed more than 1,000 hours of training to earn his spacesuit from NASA.

“We got a big responsibility to perform to the professional astronaut standards so we need to stay calm and in control,” Connor said.

Staying calm and in control will be critical for Connor as the pilot of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that will carry this four-man crew to space as part of Axiom-1’s mission to expand commercial Low-Earth orbits. The crew is scheduled to dock with the ISS Saturday morning at approximately 7:30 am. While onboard, all four newly trained astronauts will conduct 25 experiments for various research.

Connor, 72, is partnering with both the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic in the name of science. The research is focused on the heart, spine, brain, and aging of cells.

While on board the ISS, Connor also plans to connect with four Dayton-area schools to inspire future generations to start a career in the space industry.

“My message to the kids would be to aim high, don’t give up,” Connor said with enthusiasm. “Don’t let people, adults set limitations. You can do the impossible, but the first step is you have to believe in that and what better frontier to go and be a part of and explore is space.”

It seems Connor may have already inspired some people in his own family.

“If you talk to my granddaughter who is 6 years old, she thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world,” Connor laughed. “Another granddaughter who’s three thinks that I’m the Rocket Man and we’re all going to space.” 

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