SpaceX launches Axiom Space’s 1st all-private mission to the Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX launched Axiom Space’s Ax-1 mission to the International Space Station on Friday.

The Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Kennedy Space Center launch pad 39-A at 11:17 a.m.

>>> WATCH THE LAUNCH LIVE <<<

It was the fifth flight for the Falcon 9 first-stage booster and the third for this particular Dragon capsule.

Following the launch, the Falcon 9′s first-stage booster landed on the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

Axiom Space’s Ax-1 mission is the first all-private mission to the ISS and is composed of commander Michael López-Alegría, pilot Larry Connor, mission specialist Eytan Stibbe and mission specialist Mark Pathy.

They’ve spent over 1,000 hours training to prepare for the flight.

“Today is really the first step, the first down payment, the first chapter in taking private astronauts to the International Space Station where they’re going to be conducting many experiments,” said Axiom Executive Chairman Kam Ghaffarian. “It’s really the first step, a first beginning to many beginnings.”

Video: First all-private astronaut mission to ISS set to liftoff from Kennedy Space Center this wee

Hundreds of people arrived early at Space View Park on Friday morning to watch the rocket lift off.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Read: Axiom-1: 1st all-private crewed mission to space station ready to launch from Space Coast

Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.