SpaceX delays launch of private Ax-3 astronaut mission to Jan. 18

We'll have to wait one more day for SpaceX's launch of the next private astronaut mission.

SpaceX announced on Wednesday (Jan. 17) that the launch of Axiom Space's Ax-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed by a day, to 4:49 p.m. EST (2149 GMT) on Thursday (Jan. 18). The mission will lift off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The company announced the delay in a post on X (formerly Twitter), noting that the delay "allows teams to complete pre-launch checkouts and data analysis on the vehicle," in this case a Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon spacecraft.

When the time comes, you can watch the launch here at courtesy of livestreams from NASA, SpaceX and Axiom Space, a Houston-based company. Coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. EST (1845 GMT) on Jan. 18.

Related: Meet the 4 astronauts of SpaceX's Ax-3 launch for Axiom Space

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft awaiting the launch of Axiom Space's Ax-3 mission to the International Space Station. (Image credit: SpaceX via X)

The Ax-3 mission will carry a four-person, all-European crew to the ISS. The crew will be led by Ax-3 mission commander and former NASA astronaut Michael "LA" López-Alegría, as NASA requirements state that private crewed missions to the ISS must be commanded by a former agency astronaut.

The other three crew members are mission specialist Walter Villadei, who flew aboard Virgin Galactic's Galactic 01 suborbital spaceflight in June 2023, European Space Agency astronaut reserve member Marcus Wandt, and Turkey's first astronaut, Alper Gezeravcı. (López-Alegría is a citizen of both the U.S. and Spain, hence the "all-European" description.)

The crew will spend around two weeks aboard the ISS conducting more than 30 science experiments, Axiom Space says. 

"Data collected on ground before and after the mission as well as in flight will impact understanding of human physiology on Earth and on orbit, as well as advance scientific understanding, harness opportunities for industrial advancements and develop technologies for humanity's progress," the company stated in a mission description.

The crew of Axiom Space's Ax-3 mission. From left: Marcus Wandt, Michael López-Alegría, Walter Villadei and Alper Gezeravcı. (Image credit: Axiom Space)

The Crew Dragon spacecraft flying to the ISS for this mission, named Freedom, has carried astronauts to and from the orbital lab on two previous missions: NASA's Crew-4 in 2022 and Axiom Space's Ax-2 in May 2023.

As its name suggests, this is the third private mission flown by Axiom Space. The company aims to help build a thriving economy in low Earth orbit, by both flying private astronaut missions to the ISS and eventually building its own private space station.

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:

Brett Tingley
Managing Editor,

Brett is curious about emerging aerospace technologies, alternative launch concepts, military space developments and uncrewed aircraft systems. Brett's work has appeared on Scientific American, The War Zone, Popular Science, the History Channel, Science Discovery and more. Brett has English degrees from Clemson University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In his free time, Brett enjoys skywatching throughout the dark skies of the Appalachian mountains.