How to watch the first civilian astronauts launch to the ISS

Four civilians will soon about to embark on their first venture to the ISS — and you can watch them as they blast off.

Private space travel company Axiom Space is set to launch the first private astronaut mission on Wednesday, heading to the International Space Station with help from NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) will go further than Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson did, and even further than Elon Musk’s launch of the first civilian spaceflight through SpaceX.

The A-1 mission will see four trained civilians spending days aboard the ISS, research projects and commercial activities. The big-sender crew is made up of pilot Larry Connor of the US, mission specialist Eytan Stibbe of Israel, mission specialist Mark Pathy of Canada, and led by former NASA astronaut and commander Michael López-Alegría.

So, what’ll they be doing up there? Axiom previously revealed a microgravity research portfolio the Ax-1 crews intends to undertake in orbit in partnership with a variety of organizations on Earth. This research is sponsored by the ISS US National Laboratory.

“The goal for the Ax-1 crew is to set a standard for all future private astronaut missions in terms of our preparation and professionalism,” López-Alegría said. “As the commander, I am proud of the work these crew members have put in to be ready to conduct meaningful work standards on the International Space Station and are glad to see them meet the required of all astronauts flying to station since Expedition 1. Ax- 1 is focused on a huge amount of science and outreach activities, and we look forward now to finalizing that flight program.”

How much did tickets for undertaking this research cost you ask? Oh, just $55 million per person.

So, if you’re ready to watch this historic launch to the ISS, here’s what you need to know.

When is the launch?

Liftoff is scheduled for 11:17 am ET on Friday, April 8 — it has been pushed back from Tuesday. The dry dress rehearsal test and integrated static fire test of the rocket is set for Wednesday. The crew will board one of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules, which will be launched by a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

How do I watch the launch?

NASA and Axiom will be covering the Ax-1 pre-launch and launch from 10 am ET on Friday, as well as the docking and undocking operations. You can watch it live through NASA’s YouTube channel, on NASA’s website, or NASA’s app. You can also watch it on Axiom’s own website.

Here’s where it’ll be on YouTube if you can’t be bothered opening a new tab:

There will also be a pre-launch news conference to talk about final prep on Thursday, which is scheduled for an hour after the launch readiness review is completed (this is the task that evaluates all the mission hardware ahead of liftoff). NASA says this’ll be no earlier than 3 pm ET. on Thursday and you can watch this through NASA’s YouTube channel or on the website.

There’s even a highly dramatic trailer for the whole thing:

Can we watch the docking at the ISS?

Docking is scheduled for Saturday, April 9 at approximately 7:30 am ET. NASA will be covering the docking at the ISS, and the hatch opening, and the crew welcome ceremony. Obviously these times might change but we’ll keep this post as up to date as possible.

What about the return?

NASA is yet to announce when the Ax-1 farewell event will happen and what’s planned for return coverage.

In the meantime, you can keep up to date with the mission through NASA’s Twitter account and Axiom’s Twitter account.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo