First Fully Civilian Space Crew Docks at International Space Station

A SpaceX mission including the first-ever fully civilian crew docked at the International Space Station on Friday. The Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule was launched without incident from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The 20-hour flight to the International Space Station was briefly delayed during docking because of a video routing issue that needed correction.

The mission includes a retired NASA astronaut and three civilians with the means to afford a ticket aboard the spacecraft as part of the first “fully commercial” and non-governmental flight to the International Space Station. The mission is seen as an important step forward in the creation of a privately owned and operated space lab.

The civilian crew plans on staying aboard the space station for eight days. They are scheduled to conduct a series of experiments as well as “outreach and commercial” activities. Each member of the crew spent between 750 and 1,000 hours in training for the mission and is expected to participate in around 25 different experiments that will involve more than 100 hours of microgravity research.

Axiom Space is conducting the mission and according to its website is dedicated to fully realizing the possibilities of low Earth orbit. The company has been involved with every International Space Station mission and says it expects to make low Earth orbit activities possible for individuals, researchers, and manufacturers.

The firm says that it believes microgravity holds the most promise for problem-solving and innovation “since the internet.” It has announced plans to begin building the world’s first commercial space station in 2024.

The Russian space agency has overseen arrangements over the last 20 years for 11 civilian astronauts to visit the International Space Station.

Since the increasing international tensions arising from Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine, the Russian government has said that it intends to terminate collaborative efforts with western nations to maintain the International Space Station. It has said that as long as economic sanctions continue, it will not undertake any new projects or tasks involving the station.

Before announcing an end to its work on the International Space Station, Russia made threats about the station dropping on a western nation if it stopped supplying it with resources.