NASA is about to send its first private astronauts — also known as space tourists — to the International Space Station.
Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy, American entrepreneur Larry Connor, and former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe have reportedly forked out an eye-watering $55 million each for the 10-day experience.
The trio will head to space with mission commander and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría.
Falcon 9 and Dragon vertical at 39A; targeting Friday, April 8 for launch of Ax-1 → https://t.co/sIz9U6NRxT pic.twitter.com/NSJqo3FBb4
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 6, 2022
Organized by Texas-based Axiom Space and using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, the Ax-1 mission is set to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the late morning on Friday, April 8.
For any rocket launch, weather characteristics such as wind, precipitation, cloud, humidity, and temperature all have to be carefully monitored. Any measurements that fall outside NASA’s accepted range for launch will see the mission postponed until conditions improve.
The good news is that, as of Wednesday, the weather conditions for Friday’s launch are looking pretty good. With little chance of precipitation and acceptable wind speeds expected, the mission has been given an 80% chance of starting on time (barring any last-minute technical hiccups), with the primary concern being the possible appearance of a thick layer of cloud in the area.
Docking with the ISS is expected to take place on Saturday morning, followed soon after by a welcoming ceremony where the new arrivals will meet the current ISS crew of seven astronauts for the first time.
While living aboard the orbiting outpost 250 miles above Earth, the four visitors will conduct various scientific experiments, outreach, and commercial activities. To learn more about how astronauts live and work on the ISS, check out these insightful videos made by crew members over the years.
Also, if you’re interested in watching a livestream of the launch, as well as the docking with ISS and welcoming event the following morning, Digital Trends has you covered.
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