There's a lot going on at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, as new photos show.
SpaceX is gearing up for the Friday (April 8) launch of Ax-1, the first all-private crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), from KSC's Launch Pad 39A. Elon Musk's company rolled the Ax-1 Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon crew capsule out to 39A yesterday (April 5).
And the pad next door, 39B, currently hosts the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule that will fly on NASA's Artemis 1 moon mission a few months from now.
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Live updates: The Ax-1 private mission to the International Space Station
The two rockets can be seen together in photos that NASA posted to one of its Flickr accounts (opens in new tab) today (April 6). The SLS and Falcon 9 appear to be about the same size in some of the new images, but that's a trick of perspective; the SLS towers 322 feet (98 meters) above the ground, whereas the Falcon 9 is "only" 230 feet (70 m) tall.
Ax-1, which was organized by Houston company Axiom Space, will send three paying customers and Axiom employee Michael López-Alegría to the ISS for an eight-day stay. López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut, will command the mission.
Ax-1 had been scheduled to launch on April 3, but its liftoff was pushed back to accommodate the "wet dress rehearsal" of Artemis 1 at Pad 39B. During this crucial test, Artemis 1 team members practice the activities they will perform in the leadup to a real launch, including fueling of the SLS.
The wet dress rehearsal began on April 1 and was supposed to wrap up two days later. The teams ran into several problems, however, and halted the test as a result. They will pick things up again sometime after the Ax-1 launch, NASA officials said during a call with reporters yesterday (April 5).
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).