CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Four astronauts left Earth this morning (April 8), flying a SpaceX capsule to the International Space Station on a historic launch to delight viewers.
“Wow! It’s a beautiful start,” Kathy Lueders, NASA’s director of space operations, said during a news conference after today’s announcement. “It’s never going to get old.”
Today at 11:17 am EDT (1517 GMT), a retired NASA pilot and three spacecraft paid for their seats were released on a historic trip to the International Space Station (ISS) from Pad 39A here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The mission, dubbed Ax-1, is the first flight organized by Texas-based aerospace company Axiom Space and the first full-scale flight to the airport in history.
The mission was commanded by Michael López-Alegría, an Axiom employee who is a former NASA pilot and former ISS officer. His Ax-1 teammates included missionary pilot Larry Connor and missionary engineers Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy.
Live updates: Ax-1 is the personal missionary in space
After a successful launch this morning, passengers were safe at the airport. After the release, the crew “took off their clothes and started their first meal,” said Benjamin Reed, chief executive of human spaceflight programs at SpaceX, in during the news conference after the release, adding that “astronauts are good. and good.”
Reed added that the SpaceX Dragon capsule they are flying is “good” and “beautiful.”
The Ax-1 crew is scheduled to arrive with the airport at about 7:45 am EDT (1145 GMT) tomorrow morning (April 9). After recording, the fence between the Dragon capsule and the stage will open around 9:30 am EDT (1330 GMT).
You can follow along with the docking activities with a live webcast starting tomorrow at 5:30 am EDT (0930 GMT), which you can find on Space.com or via Axiom Space. (opens on new page).
When the barrier between the capsule and the platform is opened, the Ax-1 team will be greeted by astronauts sitting and working on the runway. The people of the reception area will also be hosting a reception event, as usual, with newcomers.
Ax-1 is a 10-day mission, which takes about eight days on the airport.
López-Alegría was not paid for her place on the flight, although she assisted and guided the other three delegates through the mission. Connor, Stibbe and Pathy are paying the drivers and it is estimated they paid about $ 55 million for their seats.
“I see the world looking at this historic event,” Dana Weigel, International Space Station’s director of operations for NASA, said during a conference call today. To make the most of this amazing work, members will have a “complete set of missionary goals,” he said.
Those goals include carrying out 25 scientific experiments and other commercial activities, as well as media advertising that pilots are taught to do during orbit. One of the scientific experiments Ax-1 is carrying out with Stibbe is on behalf of the Ramon Foundation, a non-profit organization he founded with the family of Ilan Ramon, a pilot and friend of Stibbe in died during the Columbia disaster in 2003.
Ramon was the first Israelite to get into the air, and Stibbe the second. (Connor is from America and Pathy is from Canada.)
Ax-1 will be followed by Axiom Space’s second space mission, Ax-2, which will launch in 2023.
Ax-2 will be led by a former NASA pilot, Peggy Whitson, who commanded the spacecraft and broke some records during its time in space. According to López-Alegría, Whitson is an Axiom employee, serving as the organization’s director. (López-Alegría is the vice president of business development.)
“We think it’s important to have a professional astronaut flying in space,” Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space, told Space.com in a brief post- launch. “Peggy and Mike went to the ISS before and ordered it, so they’re good for these first two missions.”
“We’re training sailors as professional astronauts, so we’ve had the option to have a professional astronaut as a paid agent. And we think that’s the right way to fly. these planes, ”Suffredini said.
Members of the mission team said that before and after today’s release, Ax-1 was Axiom’s first major move toward its ultimate goal of building the first full-fledged retail market in orbit. The first module of this upcoming free range will begin recording with the ISS in 2024.
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