The trio will travel with a former NASA astronaut and spend a little more than a week aboard the orbiting laboratory. There they will assist in science-based philanthropic projects, like experiments about cancer tumors in microgravity and with robotic self-constructing units.
But beyond these tasks, the mission will serve as a major stepping stone for Axiom Space’s ambitions. The company hopes to build and launch the first commercial space outpost in low-Earth orbit to replace the ISS. The iconic structure is one of humanity’s greatest achievements, but it only has about a decade left in space. Axiom Space is developing its successor.
Axiom-1 mission launch date and time
Axiom-1 is scheduled to fly on Friday (April 8) at 11:17 a.m. Eastern Time.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the four-person crew from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The passengers will ride into space within a SpaceX Dragon crew capsule, which will ferry them to the station and return them back to Earth about ten days after launch.
How to watch the Axiom-1 launch livestream
Axiom Space’s webcast will be a collaboration with SpaceX. It starts at 7:55 a.m. on Friday. NASA says its broadcast begins a little later, at 10:00 a.m.
One perk of watching Axiom Space’s broadcast is that it may include the crew walkout to the rocket before launch, according to its event description.
At an unspecified time after launch, two members of the Axiom-1 crew “will participate in an in-flight event from the Dragon spacecraft,” according to Axiom Space. “If we are not able to support an in-flight event, our next opportunity to check in with the crew will be after the webcast resumes, approximately two hours before the crew reaches the space station.”
Both livestreams will run until about 15 minutes after liftoff, around the time of orbital insertion.
Axiom Space and NASA will resume their coverage at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday (April 9), when the Axiom-1 crew prepares to dock at the ISS.
Who are the Axiom-1 Crew?
- Commander Michael López-Alegría of Spain will pilot the Axiom-1 mission. The former Space Shuttle program astronaut has flown four times; he now serves as Chief Astronaut for Axiom Space.
- Larry Connor, a real estate and technology investor who will serve as Axiom-1 Pilot.
- Businessman Mark Pathy from Canada, who founded Mavrik Corp., an investment firm
- Eytan Stibbe, a former fighter pilot turned venture capitalist from Israel.
The mission will be one-part space tourism for the rich, another-part philanthropy, but more importantly, this week’s launch will begin Axiom Space’s test drive in low-Earth orbit.
Axiom Space already has a lot of advantages. It is helmed by co-founder and CEO Michael Suffredini, who served as NASA’s International Space Station Program Manager from 2005 to 2015. Former NASA record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson has also joined the Axiom team. It doesn’t hurt that Axiom Space has also set up its headquarters a short distance away from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
NASA is collaborating with the private sector to support commercial projects like Axiom Station, since the ISS is only set to maintain operations until 2030.