Axiom Space readies first private astronaut mission from Kennedy Space Center to the ISS

Just after noon on April 6, an Axiom Space mission called Ax-1 will bring four private crew members to the International Space Station. It’s the first all-private mission to the International Space Station.Representing the U.S., Canada and Israel, the astronauts will conduct 25 different experiments. Ax-1 mission pilot Larry Connor draws the distinction between their private astronaut mission and space tourism. “Space tourists will spend 10 or 15 hours training, five to ten minutes in space. By the way, that’s fine. In our case, depending on our role, we have spent anywhere between 750 to over 1,000 hours training,” Connor said. The commander is a retired NASA astronaut. The space company has tapped SpaceX to get them there using a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule to get the job done. Axiom is also using this mission to lay the groundwork for its private space station. “This is the first in a series of precursor missions before our space station is launched and assembled in orbit, ultimately replacing the International Space Station when it is retired,” Axiom Space’s president and CEO Michael Suffredini said. While Ax-1 will be making history, it’s keeping good company at the Kennedy Space Center near NASA’s SLS Artemis lunar rocket.As Axiom and SpaceX ready launch pad 39A for their mission Ax-1 on Wednesday, just next door on launchpad 39B, Artemis I stands ready for a weekend of testing that begins on Friday night.In fact, the testing schedule pushed Ax-1 launch back a few days. Personnel for both missions are keeping a close eye on the wet dress rehearsal, hoping it all goes smoothly, so there are no more launch delays.