How to watch the launch of the first civilian astronauts to the ISS

Four civilians will soon embark on their first adventure to the ISS – and you can watch them take off.

Private space travel company Axiom Space is set to launch the first private astronaut mission on Wednesday, heading to the International Space Station with help from NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) will go further than Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, and even further than Elon Musk’s launch of the first civilian spaceflight via SpaceX.

The AX-1 mission will see four trained civilians spend eight days aboard the ISS, conducting research projects and commercial activities. The spendthrift crew is made up of pilot Larry Connor of the United States, mission specialist Eytan Stibbe of Israel, mission specialist Mark Pathy of Canada, and led by former astronaut and NASA commander Michael López-Alegría.

So what are they going to do up there? Axiom previously revealed a portfolio of microgravity research that the Ax-1 crew intends to undertake in orbit in partnership with various organizations on Earth. This research is sponsored by the ISS US National Laboratory.

“The goal of the Ax-1 crew is to set a standard for all future private astronaut missions in terms of readiness and professionalism,” López-Alegría said. “As commander, I am proud of the work done by these crew members to be ready to conduct meaningful work on the International Space Station and pleased to see them meet the standards required for all astronauts flying to the station from the station. Expedition 1. Ax-1 is focused on a tremendous amount of science and outreach activities, and we look forward to finalizing this flight schedule.”

How much did the tickets cost to undertake this research, you ask? Oh, only $55 million per person.

So if you’re ready to watch this historic launch to the ISS, here’s what you need to know.

When is the launch?

Liftoff is scheduled for 11:17 a.m. ET on Friday, April 8 – it was pushed back from Tuesday. The rocket’s dry dress rehearsal test and integrated static firing test are scheduled for Wednesday. The crew will board one of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules, which will be launched by a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

How to watch the launch?

NASA and Axiom will cover the pre-launch and launch of Ax-1 beginning at 10 a.m. ET Friday, as well as docking and undocking operations. You can watch it live on the NASA YouTube channel, NASA website, or NASA app. You can also watch it on the Axiom website.

Here’s where it will be on YouTube if you can’t bother opening a new tab:

There will also be a pre-launch press conference to talk about final readiness on Thursday, which is scheduled one hour after the completion of the launch readiness review (this is the task that evaluates all mission hardware before takeoff). NASA says it won’t be until 3 p.m. ET. Thursday and you can watch it via NASA’s YouTube channel or on the website.

There’s even a very dramatic trailer for it all:

Can we attend the ISS docking?

Docking is scheduled for Saturday, April 9 around 7:30 a.m. ET. NASA will cover the ISS docking, hatch opening and crew welcome ceremony. Obviously, these times may change, but we’ll keep this post as up-to-date as possible.

What about the return?

NASA has yet to announce when the Ax-1 farewell event will take place and what is planned for return coverage.

In the meantime, you can keep up to date with the mission through NASA’s Twitter account and Axiom’s Twitter account.

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