SpaceX, in collaboration with Axiom Space, sent the first all-private crew to the International Space Station at 11:17 a.m. ET Friday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The mission, Axiom-1 (Ax-1), is a program started by Axiom Space, aiming to allow public citizens to buy their own ticket to space.
Former NASA astronaut and Axiom Vice President Michael López-Alegría serves as mission commander, having previously flown to space four times over a 20-year career at NASA. López-Alegría’s last visit to the ISS was in 2007, and he is now the first person to command a civil and commercial human spaceflight mission.
“This collection of pioneers – the first space crew of its kind – represents a defining moment in humanity’s eternal pursuit of exploration and progress,” López-Alegría said. “I know from firsthand experience that what humans encounter in space is profound and propels them to make more meaningful contributions on returning to Earth. And as much as any astronaut who has come before them, the members of this crew have accomplished the sorts of things in life that equip them to accept that responsibility, act on that revelation, and make a truly global impact.”
Joining López-Alegría is non-profit activist investor Larry Connor as the pilot, Canadian philanthropist Mark Pathy, and Israeli philanthropist Eytan Stibbe.
“I look forward to leading this crew and to their next meaningful and productive contributions to the human story, both on orbit and back home,” López-Alegría said.
The crew rode atop a Falcon 9 rocket, which has now flown to space on five different occasions. The rocket made its way back to Earth, landing on the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket previously flew for the Demo-2 and Crew-2 missions.