Axiom, SpaceX sending 1st private crew to space station

Launch from Florida’s Space Coast set for 11:17 a.m.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, April 8, 2022. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – SpaceX and Axiom Space reported Thursday that all systems are a go for the first private crew rocketing to the International Space Station on Friday.

While storms moved across Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, the weather squadron forecasts conditions for Friday morning to look a lot better for Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule to fly Michael Lopez-Alegria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe to the space station.

[SPACE VIEW: Get as many as 12 livestreams of the historic Axiom-1 launch]

In a news conference Thursday afternoon, mission leaders said liftoff remains on target for 11:17 a.m.

‘’The space station team is really excited for this first-of-its-kind mission,’’ ISS Deputy Program Manager Dana Weigel said.

An Axiom Space representative commented there has never been a crew of astronauts headed to the space station with none who work for a government.

Axiom Space, with the help of SpaceX, will make history Friday with the launch of Ax-1, the first all-private mission to the International Space Station.

‘’Doing something that’s never been done before in exactly this way, it’s very rewarding and thrilling to be a day away,’’ Operations Director Derek Hassmann said.

Dr. Peggy Whitson has spent more time in space than any American and she plans to return to the space station on the second Axiom mission, following the work of the first crew now making final preparations.

Whitson said she provided words of wisdom to Connor, Pathy and Stibbe, the first-time space flyers.

The Axiom Space Mission 1 crew took part in a news conference Friday ahead of their historic launch, scheduled for April 6.

Commander Lopez-Alegria is a former NASA astronaut like Whitson.

‘’Today, they’re probably taking a bit of a break,’’ said Whitson, of their activities the day before the launch. ‘’They did their dress rehearsal yesterday, so that’s probably a very exciting day. It would be for me.”

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Benji Reed of SpaceX praised the crew for their past year of training.

‘’They’ve worked hard to understand how they can be contributing members to a national laboratory and that’s pretty darn cool,’’ Reed said.

News 6 will be covering every angle of the launch with as many as 12 livestreams available at ClickOrlando.com/spaceview. For more information, click here.


About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.