Axiom-1, the first all private mission to the International Station, is poised to launch Friday morning.
If all goes well, four crew members, all private citizens — though one is a former Nasa astronaut — will blast off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft at 11:17 am Eastern from Kennedy Space Center for an eight day mission on the ISS.
Live streams of the launch and pre-launch activities are available on the Axiom Space and SpaceX websites, and Nasa will carry its own feed beginning at 10 am Eastern.
Axiom Space is developing a module it hopes to add to the ISS sometime in 2024 to serve as a destination for paying customers who wish to fly in space. Over time, the company plans to add on further modules, eventually detaching the complex from the ISS to form a free-flying commercial space station before the ISS’s retirement at the end of the 2020s.
Check back here for continuing live coverage of the Axiom-1 launch and mission.
jon kelvey8 April 2022 16:19
T-Minus One Minutes
jon kelvey8 April 2022 16:17
Steam is now visible coming off the Falcon 9 rocket as the ground team finishing loading liquid oxygen into the rocket with just more than five minutes to launch.
jon kelvey8 April 2022 16:13
T minus 10 minutes
Axiom-1 will launch in about 10 minutes at 11:17 am Eastern time.
It’s about two minutes to space for the crew atop the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
Once in orbit, it’s almost a full day —around 20 hours— before the Crew Dragon spacecraft can rendezvous with the ISS, dock, and the crew can disembark for their eight day stay on the space station.
jon kelvey8 April 2022 16:08
The four crew of Axiom-1 won’t be building a space station — Axiom has yet to install its first module on the ISS — but their trip isn’t just a vacation either. The spacecraft is also carrying a handful of science experiments the crew will setup and run during their eight days on the ISS.
The Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for the Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive, Environments, or TESSERAE Ax-1, will study the ability of autonomous, robotic tiles to swarm in microgravity.
The Axiom-1 commercial astronauts will also work on culturing model cancer tumors in microgravity.
jon kelvey8 April 2022 15:59
With less than 45 minutes to launch Axiom-1, the ground team has retracted the tower platform from the rocket and is preparing to load the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with propellant.
Those watching the live feed of the launch can also hear the crew and launch director go through the little things that need to be taken care of — such as making sure all the iPads in the Crew Dragon spacecraft have rubber bands over them to hold them in place during launch.
jon kelvey8 April 2022 15:38
A private crew
While Nasa astronauts have been flying to the ISS aboard SpaceX rockets since 2020, Axiom-1 marks the first all private astronaut crew to fly to the space station.
The mission commander, Michael López-Alegría of Spain and the US, is a former Nasa astronaut, but is now a private citizen. His three crewmates of his have all paid $55 million each to fly in space for the first time.
American Larry Connor is an accomplished aircraft pilot and real estate developer, and will serve as the missions pilot, although the Crew Dragon spacecraft is fully autonomous.
Canadian Mark Pathy is a CEO of an investment firm and will serve as a mission specialist.
Former Israeli Air Force pilot turned investment banker Eytan Stibbe will also serve as a mission specialist.
jon kelvey8 April 2022 14:58
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.