SpaceX launched Axiom's AX-1 crew on April 8, it is the first fully-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS). A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 11:17 a.m. EDT from Launch Complex-39A at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida and launched the AX-1 crew aboard Crew Dragon Endeavour to orbit. "Together, a new chapter begins," sais Axiom's launch commentator Jon Rackham during the broadcast of the launch. "Godspeed, Ax-1!" The AX-1 crewmembers are: Larry Connor of the United States, Eytan Stibbe of Israel, and Mark Pathy of Canada, led by former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría who will be serve as commander during their 10 day trip.
Approximately 9-minutes after liftoff, the previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster, identified as B1062, returned from space a fifth time. It landed on the 'A Shortfall of Gravitas' autonomous droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the 113 landing of an orbital-class rocket booster. To date, SpaceX has launched 151 missions and reused Falcon 9 boosters in its fleet 91 times. The AX-1 mission's booster previously launched include: the U.S. Space Force GPS III Space Vehicle 04 satellite and GPS III Space Vehicle 05, as well as SpaceX's Inspiration4 mission that marked the world's first all-civilian space flight to orbit Earth, and a single Starlink mission.
Falcon 9’s first stage booster has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship pic.twitter.com/a5ucqbDwQ0— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 8, 2022
Axiom's AX-1 crew arrived to the Space Station after a 21-hour journey. "Dragon Endeavour’s docking was delayed approximately 45 minutes as the space station teams, including mission controllers at NASA and SpaceX, worked to troubleshoot an issue preventing the crew members on station from receiving views from Dragon’s center line camera of the Harmony’s modules docking port," the agency shared, "Mission teams worked to route video using a SpaceX ground station to the crew on the space station allowing Dragon to proceed with docking." Dragon Endeavour docked to the ISS Harmony module at 8:29 a.m. EDT on Saturday, April 9, while the spacecraft was orbitin Earth around 260 miles above the central Atlantic Ocean.
Dragon proceeding toward Waypoint 1 pic.twitter.com/i1RsDwAZEX— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 9, 2022
Docking confirmed! pic.twitter.com/YPyF3aRwO7— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 9, 2022
AX-1 Pilot Larry Connor is an entrepreneur, non-profit activist investor, who just made history as the first private Dragon pilot to reach the ISS and the first human to reach the deepest ocean depths and outer space within one year. AX-1 Mission Specialist Eytan Stibbe served as an Israeli Air Force pilot for more than four decades and made history as the 2nd Israeli to ever visit outer space. Mark Pathy is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who made history as Canada’s 2nd private astronaut and the 12th Canadian to ever travel to space. He is also serving as AX-1 mission specialist and plans to conduct medical research in microgravity. The crew will also participate in educational outreach before returning to Earth.
Today, there are 11 persons working and living ar the Space Station as part of Expedition 67. The Axiom crew was welcomed to ISS by NASA astronauts Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsokov, and Denis Matveev. The Axiom crew is leading the way to the commercialization of the ISS laboratory. They will conduct science research and educational projects during their 8-day visit. "All of us are incredibly thrilled and excited to welcome Axiom on board," said Marshburn as Expedition 67 welcomed AX-1. "On this historic day, we expect long term cooperation with NASA, with our international partners, with private companies and private astronauts. So we are ready to go to work," he said.
"I gotta tell you this is it's quite an experience," said López-Alegría, as he floated alongside his crewmates aboard the orbiting laboratory. "I can't even begin to describe how fun it has been to be in Dragon for the last day and a half or so, watching these guys faces light up."
"I'm thrilled and honored to be up here," said Connor, "Thanks to SpaceX for the phenomenal ride. I mean, no pun intended, but [it was] out of this world. [...] We're here to experience this but we understand there's a responsibility and the responsibility is for this first civilian crew to get it right," he added, "And that's what we are fully committed to, with the support of everybody here at the ISS and and on the ground. So it is going to be a busy week of research for us and I'm sure it's going to fly by."
Featured Image Source: SpaceX