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Launch of the first entirely private manned space flights to the space station


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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.

This photo provided by SpaceX shows the SpaceX crew seated in the Dragon spacecraft Friday, April 8, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX is set to launch three wealthy businessmen and their escort astronauts to the International Space Station for more than a week’s stay.
(SpaceX via AP)

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.

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