Skip to main content

SpaceX's Ax-1 astronaut mission to the space station delayed to April 6

Axiom Space's private Ax-1 crew will ride a SpaceX spacecraft to the International Space Station in April 2022. They are (from left): pilot Larry Connor; Mark Pathy, mission specialist; Michael López-Alegría, commander; and Eytan Stibbe, mission specialist.
Axiom Space's private Ax-1 crew will ride a SpaceX spacecraft to the International Space Station in April 2022. They are (from left): pilot Larry Connor; Mark Pathy, mission specialist; Michael López-Alegría, commander; and Eytan Stibbe, mission specialist. (Image credit: Axiom Space)

The first all-private crewed mission to the International Space Station won't launch this weekend after all.

Axiom Space's Ax-1 mission had been targeting a Sunday (April 3) liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. But on Monday (March 28), NASA officially approved Friday (April 1) through Sunday for the crucial "wet dress rehearsal" of its Artemis 1 moon mission, a practice session that's also taking place at KSC. So Ax-1 is getting pushed a few days. 

"NASA, Axiom and SpaceX are now looking at no earlier than April 6 for the launch of Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, pending range approval," NASA officials wrote in an update on Monday afternoon.

Ax-1 private mission to space station: Live updates 

Ax-1 will use a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule to send four people to the space station for an eight-day stay. Three of them are paying customers; the fourth is Axiom employee Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut who's commanding the mission.

SpaceX has another astronaut launch coming up from KSC as well — that of the Crew-4 mission, which will send three NASA astronauts and one European spaceflyer to the orbiting lab for a lengthy stint. NASA and SpaceX had been targeting April 19 for Crew-4's liftoff, and that remains the case despite the Ax-1 delay, agency officials said in today's update.

The Artemis 1 wet dress rehearsal is a series of tests that will simulate the activities and procedures leading up to launch, including fueling of the mission's huge Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. (That's what the "wet" refers to.)

Artemis 1, the first-ever flight of the SLS, will send NASA's Orion capsule on an uncrewed mission around the moon. Launch is tentatively expected in May or June; NASA will set an official target date after analyzing the results of the wet dress rehearsal and other tests.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Mike Wall
Mike Wall

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com 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.