‘A new era’: SpaceX launches Axiom Space’s 1st all-private mission to the Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Axiom Space’s Ax-1 mission, the first all-private mission to the International Space Station, launched from Kennedy Space Center Friday.

The Dragon spacecraft, carrying commander Michael López-Alegría, pilot Larry Connor, mission specialist Eytan Stibbe and mission specialist Mark Pathy, lifted off from launch pad 39-A just after 11 a.m.

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Axiom Executive Chairman Kam Ghaffarian said the launch is just the beginning of future missions involving private astronauts.

“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,” Ghaffarian said.

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

Axiom is working toward building the first private space station in low-earth orbit, with the first habitat module launching sometime in 2024.

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

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

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

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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.