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Axiom Mission 1, the first private crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), launched on Friday morning.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endeavor lifted off shortly after 11:17 a.m. ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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The rocket’s first-stage booster landed on the droneship — dubbed “A Shortfall of Gravitas” — at 11:27 a.m. ET. The dragon’s split was confirmed just before 11:30 a.m. ET.
The Ax-1 mission sends four private space travelers on a 10-day flight to do science and push the boundaries of commercial spaceflight.
The crew – the first entirely private astronaut team – includes former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría and fare-paying passengers Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe. The three businessmen paid $55 million each.
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“During the mission, the crew will spend eight days on the International Space Station conducting research, outreach and commercial activities,” Axiom said in a statement.
They will arrive at the orbital laboratory on Saturday after a flight of more than 20 hours and are expected to return on April 19.
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Friday’s flight is the second private charter for SpaceX, which took a billionaire and his guests on a three-day orbit last year.
Axiom is targeting next year for its second private flight to the space station.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.