Speed Reads

one giant leap

Watch the historic launch of an all-civilian crew to the International Space Station

A crew of civilians is about to take one giant leap for space travel. 

On Friday, Axiom Space will launch four private citizens into space, marking the first time a crew consisting entirely of civilians travels to the International Space Station, according to NBC News

Last September, SpaceX made history by launching the first all-civilian crew into orbit, though this mission involved the crew orbiting the Earth for three days. 

But the civilian crew on the Ax-1 mission will "spend eight days working and living aboard" the International Space Station while "conducting research that lays the groundwork for a full realization of the possibilities in low-Earth orbit," per Axiom Space.

The mission will include former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría and three customers: Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe, according to CBS News

Axiom Space Operations Director Derek Hassmann noted Thursday that while private citizens have gone to the International Space Station before, this has typically involved them accompanying government astronauts. "In the case of the Ax-1 mission, it's very different in that the entire crew are unaffiliated with any government," he said. 

Watch the launch, which is scheduled for 11:17 a.m. ET, below.