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The world’s first fully private space crew has docked with the International Space Station.
On Friday morning, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket containing a Dragon capsule launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday morning “without any major hiccups,” Engadget reported.
Reportedly the crew’s flight to the ISS took around 20 hours and experienced a brief delay in the docking sequence due to a video routing problem.
CBS News reported that the SpaceX rocket carried “a retired NASA astronaut and three wealthy civilians on the first non-government, fully commercial flight to the International Space Station – a trailblazing mission intended to help pave the way to a privately operated space lab.”
The crew consisted of Michael Lopez-Algeria, commander and former NASA astronaut, and businessmen Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy.
The crew is expected to spend eight days on the space station where they will conduct science experiments along with “outreach and commercial activities.” The crew is also expected to return scientific samples back to Earth for NASA to study.
The mission was conducted by Axiom Space, a company that is — according to its website — dedicated to “the full realization of low Earth orbit’s possibilities.”
Axiom Space “has been involved with every ISS mission since the program’s inception” and hopes to make “the possibilities of Low Earth Orbit accessible to visionary governments, researchers, manufacturers, and individuals.”
The company believes that “microgravity is the most promising environment for innovation and problem-solving since the Internet” and plans on “building the first commercial space station in our solar system starting in 2024.”
This launch marked the sixth piloted flight of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, is the “second fully commercial flight to orbit,” a “d the “fi” st all-commercial visit to the International Space Station.”
Over the past twenty years, eleven private astronauts have had the privilege to visit the International Space Station under commercial arrangements with Russia’Russia’sagency.
In recent weeks, the Russian government announced that it would no longer collaborate with Western nations on maintaining the International Space Station. Russian officials indicated that they would see to the completion of already ongoing projects and tasks but that the country will withdraw its support of the station so long as Western nations continue to sanction the Russian economy in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Prior to pulling out of the International Space Station, Russian officials threatened to drop the station on the Western world by ceasing to provide it with resources for propulsion.