ON THE 6TH OF APRIL IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA (UPI) — SpaceX performed a static fire test on Wednesday in preparation for the launch of Axiom-1, the world’s first commercial mission to the International Space Station, on Friday. The project, codenamed Axiom-1, would see a crew of four civilians aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and blast off on a 10-day journey to the International Space Station, where they will undertake a variety of scientific experiments aboard the space station.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A will serve as the launchpad for the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket. The launch is set for Friday at 11:17 am Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The capsule will dock with the space station at 6:45 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) less than 24 hours later. Currently, weather authorities at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station believe that there is an 80 percent likelihood of acceptable weather for launch on Friday, but crews are continuing to monitor the weather throughout the whole launch path.
A cold front is forecast to come into the area tonight, bringing with it the possibility of upper-level winds and bad weather along the rocket’s flight path. SpaceX said that teams would work to guarantee that the rocket can land safely and that the crew will be able to safely abort the launch if an anomaly arises during the flight. SpaceX activated the Falcon 9’s first stage engines for a limited period of time on Wednesday while keeping the rocket in place to ensure it was ready to take off when the mission began.
This sort of test enables engineers to analyze data obtained from the spacecraft’s numerous systems, with the rocket manufacturer verifying that the vehicle is ready for launch after passing the test.
An hour earlier, the Axiom-1 crew, which included retired NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegra, real estate and technology entrepreneur Larry Connor, Canadian businessman Mark Pathy, and Israeli entrepreneur and former fighter jet pilot Eytan Stibbe, went through a day’s worth of launch protocols.
Using a dry dress, the crew tested the procedures they would follow on launch day, such as suiting up and securing themselves into the rocket’s cockpit.
The Axiom mission will undergo a launch readiness assessment on Thursday, which will be the following step. This will be the deciding element in whether or not the mission will be given the final go-ahead to continue with launch day operations on schedule.
In addition to the mission’s several delays, NASA’s next giant moon rocket, the Space Launch System, which is being tested on a launch pad close to the mission’s current location, has been delayed for several days.
That test encountered various abnormalities, prompting the teams to pause the testing for a short period of time to allow Axiom-1 to get up and running. This is mostly due to the fact that Axiom-1 is a 10-day mission that will go to the International Space Station. The space station is equipped with a number of docking ports that are designed to accommodate various sorts of spacecraft.
Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete – targeting Friday, April 8 at 11:17 a.m. ET for launch of @Axiom_Space’s Ax-1 mission; weather forecast is currently 80% favorable for liftoff and teams are monitoring conditions along the ascent corridor
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 6, 2022
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft happens to be fully autonomous, able to park itself at one of two specialized docking ports designed to fit this specific spacecraft. Currently, the other empty space is occupied by the current crew residing on the ISS.
It so happens that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship is totally autonomous, with the ability to connect with one of two specialized docking ports created specifically for this particular spacecraft. At the moment, the other available space is taken by the present crew of the International Space Station.
In order for NASA’s next crew of astronauts, which includes astronauts Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, and Kjell Lindgren from the United States as well as Italian astronaut Samatha Cristoforetti, to fly on their own six-month mission, Axiom-1 must successfully finish its mission first. The mission, which has been designated Crew-4, is presently planned to launch no sooner than April 20. NASA hopes to have the Crew-4 astronauts on station and familiar with their surroundings by the end of April when the Crew-3 members will be returned to the Earth’s atmosphere.