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Watch SpaceX’s Ax-2 private astronaut launch in this free livestream May 21

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SpaceX’s next private spaceflight will launch four astronauts to the International Space Station on Sunday (May 21) and you can watch the mission live online in a series of free webcasts. 

The Ax-2 mission is the second all-private flight to the station by SpaceX for the company Axiom Space and will launch from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Liftoff is scheduled for 5:37 p.m. EDT (2137 GMT) on Sunday. You can follow it live with our Ax-2 mission updates page.

The Ax-2 mission is commanded by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, with a paying customer — investor and entrepreneur John Shoffner — serving as pilot. Saudi Arabia is flying two of its newest astronauts, Ali AlQarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, to the station on the flight, with Barnawi set to become the first Saudi woman to fly in space. Here’s how to watch their 10-day mission, which includes eight days on the space station. 

The Axiom Space Ax-2 private astronaut crew smiles in their Dragon capsule during launch rehearsal. They are: (from left) Saudi astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi; investor and pilot John Shoffner; former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson; and Saudi astronaut Ali AlQarni. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Sunday, May 21: Ax-2 launch webcast

NASA and SpaceX will each offer live webcasts of the Ax-2 astronaut launch, with SpaceX’s livestream beginning at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT). Space.com will simulcast the launch on our website and on this page.

SpaceX’s YouTube livestream is expected to show the Ax-2 crew as they prepare for flight in their sleek spacesuits, head to the launch pad in black Tesla electric cars and board their Dragon capsule Freedom. Liftoff is at 5:37 p.m. EDT (2123 GMT), and should include coverage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket first stage returning to Earth to attempt a landing at the company’s pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

NASA’s YouTube livestream will begin at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) and running through liftoff just over an hour later. 

“Today’s launch coverage is led by Axiom Space, with support from NASA and SpaceX; NASA’s primary mission responsibilities begin during Freedom’s approach to the International Space Station, the start of Ax-2 integrated operations,” NASA explained for the webcast. 

Monday, May 22: Ax-2 Dragon docking – 7:30 am ET

The Ax-2 crew will arrive at the International Space Station on Monday, May 22, at 9:24 a.m. EDT (1324 GMT), but you’ll be able to watch their approach for nearly two hours before they dock.

NASA will provide a live webcast on May 22 at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) to chronicle the Dragon Freedom’s approach and docking on NASA TV and via its YouTube channel. The livestream will not end with docking. Instead, NASA will continue to webcast the Ax-2 crew’s activities as they open the hatches between their Dragon and the station. 

Hatch opening is scheduled for 11:13 a.m. EDT (1513 GMT). The four Ax-2 astronauts will then share some “welcome remarks” at 11:45 a.m. EDT (1545 GMT), NASA officials have said. 

Ax-2 undocking and splashdown

While SpaceX, Axiom Space and NASA have not released a schedule for the Ax-2 crew’s return to Earth, it is likely that at least the undocking from the International Space Station will be webcast live, if not the landing itself. 

The Ax-2 mission is expected to last about 10 days, placing its undocking sometime around May 31, with splashdown expected shortly thereafter. Once we get more refined details on the mission’s timeline, we’ll be sure to update this page with any undocking and landing livestream events. 

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