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See NASA's Artemis 1 moon rocket, SpaceX's Ax-1 astronaut mission on the launch pad (photos)

NASA's Space Launch System rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at right atop a mobile launcher on April 6 at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39B as the Artemis 1 launch team prepares for the next attempt of the wet dress rehearsal test. At left, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft aboard is seen on the launch pad at KSC's Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the planned April 8 launch of the Ax-1 mission to the International Space Station.
NASA's Space Launch System rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at right atop a mobile launcher on April 6 at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39B as the Artemis 1 launch team prepares for the next attempt of the wet dress rehearsal test. At left, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft aboard is seen on the launch pad at KSC's Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the planned April 8 launch of the Ax-1 mission to the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

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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A zoomed-in view of the Artemis 1 stack (at right) and Ax-1 Falcon 9 and Dragon at KSC on April 6, 2022.

A zoomed-in view of the Artemis 1 stack (at right) and Ax-1 Falcon 9 and Dragon at KSC on April 6, 2022. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

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).  

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Mike Wall
Mike Wall

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.