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The all-civilian crew of Ax-1 docks at the International Space Station


The all-civilian crew of the Ax-1 mission docked with the International Space Station early Saturday morning, marking the first time private citizens had visited the spacecraft.

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, carrying the crew of four, arrived at the ISS just before 8:30 a.m. EST after a nearly 21-hour journey that launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The docking was initially delayed by around 45 minutes due to technical issues with the video.

“Mission teams worked to route video using a SpaceX ground station to the space station crew allowing Dragon to proceed with docking,” a press release read.

A video posted to Twitter by Axiom Space, the Houston-based company that organized the flight, shows the space station astronauts welcoming and hugging the crew of the Axe-1. They will be aboard the space station for the next eight days.

The Ax-1 crew inside the SpaceX Dragon capsule. From left to right: Mark Pathy, Larry Connor, Michael López-Alegría and Eytan Stibbe.Courtesy of SpaceX

The Ax-1 crew is led by Michael López-Alegría, a retired NASA astronaut who is now vice president of business development for Axiom Space. He is joined by three paying clients: American real estate investor Larry Connor, Canadian businessman Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe, a former Israeli fighter pilot. Connor, Pathy and Stibbe paid $55 million each for the experiment, as The Associated Press reported this year.

While aboard the space station, they will participate in scientific experiments and philanthropic projects, including health-related research for the Mayo Clinic and the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Axiom Space said the mission is a “precursor” to the commercialization of low Earth orbit and said it intends to conduct at least three more commercial flights to the space station. It also plans to build its own privately funded space station in orbit.

Denise Chow contributed.

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