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How to watch NASA’s all-private crew launch to the ISS on Sunday

Ax-2 Mission | Launch

Four private citizens are about to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a spacecraft ride to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Ax-2 mission, currently scheduled for Sunday, May 21, has been organized by NASA and Axiom Space and will use a SpaceX rocket and spacecraft.

The mission marks NASA’s second fully private flight to the ISS following the first one in April last year.

The early stages of the Ax-2 flight will be live-streamed on NASA’s YouTube channel. Read on for everything you need to know to watch.

The crewmembers for the upcoming flight include American Peggy Whitson, mission commander and Axiom’s director of human spaceflight; American John Shoffner, pilot; Saudi Arabian Ali Alqarni, mission specialist; and Rayyanah Barnawi, mission specialist, also from Saudi Arabia.

They’re expected to spend about 10 days aboard the space station, living and working alongside the facility’s current crew of seven astronauts.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft supporting Sunday’s mission has flown before, transporting four Crew-4 astronauts to and from the ISS in 2022.

Following stage separation, the Falcon 9’s first stage booster will land on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, enabling it to be refurbished so it can be used again in another mission.

During their time in orbit, the Ax-2 crew will work on more than 20 science and technology experiments, with the results potentially benefitting healthcare and technology development back on Earth, while also enabling industrial advances.

Places aboard Axiom Space’s private missions come at a colossal cost, with each crewmember required to hand over around $50 million from their own pocket or through funding.

What to expect

Viewers will see the four crewmembers get strapped into their seats inside the Crew Dragon. After the countdown, SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket will roar into life, sending the crew on their way to orbit. Multiple cameras inside and outside the spacecraft will show the rocket climb to space, with commentary, as well as real-time audio exchanges between the crew and mission control, also part of the presentation. And be sure to wait around for the landing of the first-stage booster, which never fails to impress.

How to watch

SpaceX is targeting Sunday, May 21, for lift-off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch window begins at 5:37 p.m. ET (2:37 p.m. PT). If the launch fails to proceed on Sunday, a backup opportunity is available at 5:14 p.m. ET (2:14 p.m. PT) on Monday, May 22.

The SpaceX live stream for the Ax-2 mission will begin about 3.5 hours before liftoff. You can watch it via the player embedded at the top of this page, or via SpaceX’s YouTube channel.

Be sure to check SpaceX’s Twitter account for any late changes to the schedule of the Ax-2 mission.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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