Rich space tourists are about to embark on their first venture to the ISS — and you can watch them as they blast 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 did, and even further than Elon Musk’s launch of the first civilian spaceflight through SpaceX (the first time regular ol’ non-astronauts have reached orbit).
The Ax-1 mission will see three trained civilians spending eight days aboard the ISS, conducting research projects and commercial activities. The big-spender crew is made up of pilot Larry Connor of the U.S., mission specialist Eytan Stibbe of Israel, mission specialist Mark Pathy of Canada, and led by NASA astronaut and commander Michael López-Alegría.
How much did tickets cost you ask? Oh, just $55 million per person.
So, if you’re ready to watch a group of rich space tourists take a cheeky spaceflight 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 has been pushed back from Tuesday. The dry dress rehearsal test and integrated static fire test of the rocket is set 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 do I watch the launch?
NASA and Axiom will be covering the Ax-1 pre-launch and launch from 10 a.m. ET on Friday, as well as the docking and undocking operations. You can watch it live through NASA’s YouTube channel, on NASA’s website, or NASA’s app. You can also watch it on Axiom’s own website.
Here’s where it’ll be on YouTube if you can’t be bothered opening a new tab:
There will also be a pre-launch news conference to talk about final prep on Thursday, which is scheduled for an hour after the launch readiness review is completed (this is the task that evaluates all the mission hardware ahead of liftoff). NASA says this’ll be no earlier than 3 p.m. ET. on Thursday and you can watch this through NASA’s YouTube channel or on the website.
There’s even a highly dramatic trailer for the whole thing:
Can we watch the docking at the ISS?
Docking is scheduled for Saturday, April 9 at approximately 7:30 a.m. ET. NASA will be covering the docking at the ISS, and the hatch opening, and the crew welcome ceremony. Obviously these times might change but we’ll keep this post as up to date as possible.
What about the return?
NASA is yet to announce when the Ax-1 farewell event will happen and what’s 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.