On April 6, SpaceX rolled its Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft to the launch pad for the first-ever private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The joint mission of NASA and Axiom Space, called Axiom-1, will launch from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on April 8. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is currently at KSC, preparing to launch four private astronauts on a 10-day mission.
Among the four crew members – Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Eytan Stibbe and Michael López-Alegría – the first three are commercial astronauts. Pathy and Stibbe will be specialists for the Ax-1 mission, and Connor will be a pilot. López-Alegría, on the other hand, is a former NASA astronaut and current Vice President of Axiom, and will serve as mission commander.
Although this will be the first commercial visit by astronauts to the space station, it will not be the first private space flight in history. There was also the Inspiration4 mission at the end of last year, led by technical entrepreneur Jared Isaacman in collaboration with SpaceX. However, it should be noted that four members of Inspiration4 revolved around the Earth for only three days, and astronauts never visited the ISS.
As for the astronauts of the Ax-1 mission, they will stay on board of the ISS for eight days and conduct interesting experiments. The crew will bring with them 25 scientific experiments, ranging from testing the human brain in outer space to the idea of creating telescope lenses from liquids. The launch was previously scheduled for April 6, but was postponed for two days due to tests of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) for Artemis 1 at the Ax-1 launch site.
When and where to watch the launch?
According to Axiom Space, Falcon 9 will launch from the Kennedy Space Center on April 8 at 11:17 European Standard Time. To watch the live broadcast, you can visit the official NASA website, NASA TV, NASA app or the official YouTube channel. SpaceX and Axiom space will also broadcast the launch live on their social networks.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 6, 2022
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