KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – Four civilians will embark on the journey of a lifetime Friday as they launch in a SpaceX rocket from Kennedy Space Center, becoming the first all-private mission to the International Space Station.
While the ride to space – the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour -- is the identical spacecraft NASA, Japanese and European astronauts use to get to space, this mission will be different because the four men on board are all private citizens. The Axiom Mission-1 (Ax-1) is the first launch for Houston-based company Axiom Space which has purchased the ride for its customers, who each paid $55 million for the trip.
Three wealthy investors -- American Larry Connor, Canadian Mark Pathy and Israeli Eytan Stibbe – bought the first seats through Axiom and trained for the last five months to prepare for their 10-day spaceflight. Axiom Space vice president and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría will be the mission commander. This will be his fifth spaceflight.
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SpaceX is targeting Friday at 11:17 a.m. ET to launch the Falcon 9 rocket with Crew Dragon from Kennedy Space Center launchpad 39A.
MEET THE MEN BEHIND THE ALL-PRIVATE MISSION TO THE ISS
Elon Musk's company SpaceX has now been launching astronauts to the space station for NASA as part of the agency's commercial crew program, so we have a good idea of what the civilian space explorers will experience leading up to liftoff and then on the journey to the ISS.
2:37 a.m. ET Wakeup call
Pathy, Connor, Stibbe and López-Alegría will begin their day and have their last breakfast on Earth.
7:12 a.m. Crew handoff to SpaceX
7:27 a.m. Weather update
The crew will get a weather update. Launch weather officers are looking at conditions around Kennedy Space Center and the Atlantic Ocean in case of an emergency launch abort.
7:50 a.m. Live coverage begins
The Axiom Space and SpaceX livestream of the countdown will begin.
7:52 a.m. Suit up
The four crew will get help from SpaceX employees donning their black-and-white spacesuits. Teams will check for leaks before sending the civilian crew out to the launch pad.
8:12 a.m. The crew walks out
The four men have been in quarantine ahead of liftoff and will get to distantly say their goodbyes to family and friends at KSC.
8:22 a.m. Drive to launchpad 39A
In SpaceX style, two Teslas will transport the four crew members to launchpad 39A.
8:37 a.m. Crew gets into the Dragon
After taking the elevator up the launch tower, the Ax-1 crew will walk across the crew access arm and then get strapped into their seats for launch.
9:22 a.m. Hatch close
SpaceX teams will close the Dragon Endeavour hatch and check for leaks.
10:32 a.m. Go or no go for fuel loading
Mission and launch control will conduct another check before fueling the rocket. At this time, SpaceX teams will be leaving the launchpad.
10:35 a.m. Astronaut walkway retracts
The crew access arm connecting to the spacecraft will pull away, clearing the way for the Falcon 9 to launch.
10:40 a.m. Dragon launch escape system is armed
This emergency abort system must be armed before the fuel load can start. The launch escape system would send the spacecraft away from the rocket if something were to go wrong.
10:42 a.m. Fuel loading begins
SpaceX begins loading rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen into the rocket's first stage.
11:10 a.m. Falcon 9 engine chill
11:16 a.m. SpaceX launch director decides if Falcon 9 is ‘go’ for launch
11:17:11 a.m. Falcon 9 liftoff
11:18:13 a.m. Max Q- maximum stress on the Falcon 9 during the launch
11:26 a.m. Falcon 9 rocket booster lands at sea
11:29 a.m. Dragon separates from the second stage.
The spacecraft is now on its own after separating from the Falcon 9 second stage.
11:49 a.m. Ax-1 crew doffs suits
The men can take off their spacesuits and get comfortable exploring the cabin.
5 p.m. Crew sleep
1:15 a.m. Crew wakeup
6:32 a.m. Approach to ISS begins
7:45 a.m. - Docking
Dragon Endeavour will dock at Node-2 on the International Space Station. After the docking is complete, the hatch will open around 9:35 a.m.