The first all-private crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is expected to launch today April 8. This is the first-ever space tourism mission to the ISS for NASA, operated by Axiom Space and flying on a SpaceX spacecraft. You can watch it all here live.
The 10-day mission, which includes eight days aboard the ISS, may signify a shift in work carried out in space, especially after Russia pulled out of collaborating on research on the ISS. Private companies like Axiom, which plans to build its own commercial space station when the ISS is retired, are looking to jump in on the action.
SpaceX has flown multiple astronauts to the ISS now and launched its own all-civilian mission to space but this is the first time it's flown paying passengers to the ISS. The travel to and from the ISS will be carried out by its Crew Dragon Endeavour, which previously brought the Crew Dragon Demo-2 and SpaceX Crew-2 missions to the ISS.
In those eight days onboard, the four members of the Axiom-1 mission, which includes former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría (now vice president of Axiom) and three space tourists who paid a reported $55 million each to travel off-Earth, will conduct 25 experiments including looking at brain activity in real-time with this futuristic-looking helmet and the world’s first in-space demonstration of two-way holoportation.
López-Alegría, who last visited the ISS in 2007, will become the first person to command both a civil and a commercial human spaceflight mission.
The launch window opens at 11:17 am ET (3:17 pm UTC) and will be streamed online as a collaboration between NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom. You can watch it below: