A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on Axiom Mission 1 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. AFP
Gulf Today Report
Three businessmen and a former astronaut blasted off on a SpaceX rocket on Friday for the first fully private mission to the International Space Station, where they will spend more than a week.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon capsule Endeavor launched at 11:17 am (1517 GMT) from the Kennedy space Center, and the spaceship should dock Saturday morning around 7:45 am.
Previous novice astronauts went to the International Space Station, especially in the first decade of this century, and last year, Russia sent a cinematographic crew to this orbital station, and then transferred a Japanese billionaire to it.
However, the crew of these missions were transported by Soyuz rockets, accompanied by professional astronauts.
This time, the company "Axiom Space" is organizing the trip in cooperation with "SpaceX" and "NASA," which charges money to use its station.
The mission called "Ax-1" is led by Spanish-American Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former astronaut who has visited the International Space Station before.
Each of the three other crew members paid tens of millions of dollars for the experience.
The role of the pilot is played by American Larry Connor, who heads a real estate company.
The flight crew also includes Canadian Mark Pathy, president of an investment firm, and former pilot Eytan Stibbe, co-founder of an investment fund.
The latter will be the second Israeli astronaut in history after Ilan Ramon, who spent the year 2003 in the explosion of the American space shuttle "Columbia" upon his return from the International Space Station.
"He was a friend of mine," Stibbe said at a news conference last week, adding, "I will continue the experience that (Ramon) started 19 years ago with a focus on storm monitoring."
These pioneers conduct about 25 scientific experiments related to aging, heart health, or even stem cells.
"The experiments that I'm going to do there, which are being done for Canadian universities and research institutes, probably wouldn't have happened in space" if it wasn't for this mission, said Mark Pathy.
This is one reason why members of the Ax-1 mission refuse to be labeled as space tourists.
The mission, called Crew-2, involves US astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)'s Akihiko Hoshide, and the European Space Agency (ESA)'s Thomas Pesquet.
SpaceX on Thursday announced a partnership to send three tourists to the International Space Station (ISS), the first private trip in more than a decade.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying three US NASA astronauts and a German astronaut from the European Space Agency undocked from the ISS shortly after 1 am EDT (0500 GMT) to embark on a return flight expected to last less than 24 hours.
Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX launched the next long-duration crew of the International Space Station (ISS) for Nasa on Wednesday, including a Russian cosmonaut hitching a ride with two Americans and a Japanese astronaut as part of the mission.
The UN climate summit clinched an early victory on Thursday, with delegates adopting a new fund to help poor nations cope with costly climate disasters.
Dr Sheikh Sultan listened to a detailed explanation from Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazzaa Al Mansoori, about the longest space mission in Arab history, which Al Neyadi underwent and extended to 6 months aboard the ISS.
The campaign, initiated by the UAE, seeks to provide relief to Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip by offering urgent assistance.