Four citizens are ready to go on their first trip to the International Space Station, and you can watch them take off.
Axiom Space, a commercial space travel firm, is set to launch the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station on Wednesday, with backing from NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) will go even further than Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, as well as Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch of the first civilian spaceflight.
Four qualified citizens will spend eight days on the ISS doing research projects and commercial activities as part of the Ax-1 mission. Pilot Larry Connor of the United States, mission specialist Eytan Stibbe of Israel, mission specialist Mark Pathy of Canada, and former NASA astronaut and commander Michael López-Alegra make up the big-spender crew.
So, what are they going to do up there? Axiom recently unveiled a microgravity research portfolio that the Ax-1 crew plans to pursue in space in collaboration with a number of Earth-based organizations. The ISS U.S. National Laboratory is funding this study.
“In terms of our preparation and professionalism, the goal for the Ax-1 crew is to set a benchmark for all future private astronaut flights,” López-Alegra stated. “As commander, I am proud of the effort these crew members have put in to be ready to undertake meaningful work on the International Space Station, and I am pleased to see that they have met the requirements that have been in place since Expedition 1 for all astronauts flying to the station. Ax-1 is devoted to a wide range of science and outreach initiatives, and we are nearing the end of the flying program.”
You might be wondering how much the tickets for this research cost. Oh, only $55 million per individual.
So, if you’re interested in watching this historic launch to the International Space Station, here’s what you need to know.
When is the launch?
Liftoff has been rescheduled for Friday, April 8 at 11:17 a.m. ET, after being postponed from Tuesday. The rocket’s dry dress rehearsal and integrated static fire test will take place on Wednesday. The astronauts will board one of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules, which will be launched by a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida’s Launch Complex 39A.
How do I watch the launch?
From 10 a.m. ET on Friday, NASA and Axiom will cover the Ax-1 pre-launch and launch, as well as docking and undocking activities. It will be broadcast live on NASA’s YouTube account, NASA’s website, and NASA’s app. It’s also available to watch on Axiom’s own website.
If you don’t want to open a new tab, here’s where you’ll find it on YouTube:
On Thursday, an hour after the launch readiness check is done, there will be a pre-launch news conference to discuss final preparations (this is the task that evaluates all the mission hardware ahead of liftoff). This will happen no earlier than 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, according to NASA, and you can watch it on NASA’s YouTube account or on the website.
For the full thing, there’s even a really dramatic trailer:
Is it possible to see the docking at the International Space Station?
The docking will take place on Saturday, April 9 at 7:30 a.m. ET. The docking to the ISS, as well as the hatch opening and the crew welcoming ceremony, will be covered by NASA. These timings may change, but we’ll do our best to keep this post up to date.
What about the return?
NASA has yet to reveal the date of the Ax-1 farewell event, as well as the plans for return coverage.