SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket Friday in the first all-private human spaceflight mission to the International Space Station, marking a step toward the first private space station.
What Time is the Launch?
The first targeted launch window for Axiom Space’s Ax-1 mission from the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will begin at 8:17 a.m. California time. A possible backup window for launch will be Saturday, at 7:54 a.m.
The ultimate goal of the mission will be to conduct over 25 experiments of innovative research while on the orbiting laboratory, as well as participate in educational outreach with people back on Earth.
Who is Traveling to Space?
The crew is comprised of four private astronauts. They will be riding in the Dragon spacecraft and spend 10 days in space — two traveling and eight aboard the ISS.
Michael López-Alegría is the crew commander; Larry Connor will be the pilot; Eytan Stibbe is one of the mission specialists; and Mark Pathy is the other mission specialist.
What’s Different About This Launch?
The crew will be first in a new class of pioneers that are laying ground work for Axiom Station, a private space station, and also for the full realization of low Earth orbit’s possibilities.
How to Watch
You can watch the launch here Friday. Just refresh this page for live video.
The official webcast for the Ax-1 mission will go live approximately three hours before the spacecraft takes off and it will remain live until about fifteen minutes after the launch. There will also be live mission coverage that will begin about two hours prior to its docking.
Axiom Space is based in Houston. It was founded in 2016 with the goal of building a free-flying commercial space station.
“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 Space President/CEO Michael Suffredini said in a statement when the mission was announced last year.
The crew will join the seven current professional astronauts living on the station.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket being used in the mission has flown four previous missions for SpaceX. The Dragon capsule has been used in two previous missions to the Space Station.
After Friday’s launch, SpaceX will again attempt to recover the Falcon 9 booster by landing it on a droneship — called “A Shortfall of Gravitas” — floating in the Atlantic Ocean.