The launch of NASA’s first space tourism flight to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed by two days and is now scheduled to take off on Friday, May 8th.
Texas-based company Axiom Space, which is organizing the Ax-1 mission in partnership with SpaceX, gave no reason why the mission was delayed.
“Late last week, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A hangar in Florida, where it has since been paired with the Falcon 9 rocket,” Axiom Space called in a message that also revealed the new start date. “The team continues pre-launch prep work in the hangar ahead of the vehicles’ rollout on Tuesday, April 5th. This shift will put dry clothes on the Ax-1 crew on Wednesday, April 6th, followed by an integrated static fire test of the missile the same day.”
It added that the mission team is now targeting a late morning ET launch on Friday, April 8, followed by the ISS docking procedure early Saturday morning ET.
Visit Digital Trends for information on how to watch NASA’s launch and docking livestream.
The Ax-1 crew consists of Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy, American entrepreneur Larry Connor and former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe, and mission commander and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría.
Each of the three newly-trained astronauts has reportedly paid around $55 million for the 10-day mission, during which they will live and work alongside the station’s current crew of professional astronauts.
The Ax-1 crew members, who have all undergone months of intensive training for their journey into space, will conduct scientific research, public relations and commercial activities aboard the ISS.
NASA has had an opportunity to launch space tourism missions to the ISS since 2020, when California-based SpaceX received approval to conduct manned missions from US soil using its own space hardware. Since then, NASA has used SpaceX to ferry professional astronauts to and from the space station in four manned missions to date.
Depending on Ax-1’s success, NASA’s tourism mission could be the first of many to the orbiting outpost before it is decommissioned in 2031, although a replacement space station should also be able to accommodate amateur astronauts who can afford to pay the cost can afford for the trip.
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