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NASA’s first space tourism mission to ISS delayed

The launch of NASA’s first space tourism flight to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed by two days and is now set to launch on Friday, April 8.

Texas-based Axiom Space, which is organizing the Ax-1 mission in partnership with SpaceX, didn’t offer a reason as to why the mission has been delayed.

“Late last week, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft arrived in the hangar at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it has since been mated with the Falcon 9 rocket,” Axiom Space said in a message that also revealed the new launch date. “The team is continuing with pre-launch processing work in the hangar ahead of vehicle rollout on Tuesday, April 5. This shift puts dry dress with the Ax-1 crew on Wednesday, April 6, followed by an integrated static fire test of the rocket on the same day.”

It added that the mission team is now targeting late morning ET on Friday, April 8, for the launch, followed by the ISS docking procedure early on Saturday morning ET.

For information on how to watch NASA’s livestream of the launch and docking, Digital Trends has you covered.

The Ax-1 crew comprises Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy, American entrepreneur Larry Connor, and former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe, along with mission commander and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría.

Each of the three newly trained spacefarers has reportedly paid around $55 million for the 10-day mission that will see them live and work alongside the station’s current crew of professional astronauts.

The Ax-1 crewmembers, all of whom have undertaken months of intense training for their trip to space, will carry out scientific research aboard the ISS, and also outreach and commercial activities.

NASA has had the option to launch space tourism missions to the ISS since 2020 when California-based SpaceX gained a permit to conduct crewed missions from U.S. soil using its own spaceflight hardware. Since then, NASA has used SpaceX to ferry professional astronauts to and from the space station in four crewed missions to date.

Depending on the success of Ax-1, NASA’s tourism mission could be the first of many to the orbiting outpost before it’s decommissioned in 2031, though a replacement space station should also be able to host amateur astronauts who can afford the cost of the ride.

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