The AX-1 passengers. Left to right: Michael López-Alegría, Mark Pathy, Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe.
New York CNN Business  — 

The US military is racking up deals with commercial rocket companies to explore the idea of using rockets typically tasked with launching satellites or astronauts to shuttle military cargo around the world at record speeds.

The trip was put together by Axiom Space, a private startup that’s booking rides with SpaceX and coordinating flights to the ISS for anyone who can afford it.

The passengers on this trip — which includes former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegría, who will command the mission as an Axiom employee, and three paying customers — are slated to take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday at 11:17 am ET. They’ll ride inside a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, the same capsule that SpaceX has used to carry NASA astronauts to the ISS already. The capsule rides to orbit on top of one of SpaceX’s 230-foot-tall Falcon 9 rockets.

This mission, called AX-1, will mark the first time in history that private citizens, or otherwise non-professional astronauts, will launch to the ISS from US soil. And it’s the first of what Axiom, the company that organized and brokered this mission with SpaceX, hopes will be many similar flights for anyone who can afford it.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is seen at sunrise on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for Axiom Mission 1, on Thursday, April 7, 2022, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ax-1 mission will be the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station.

The AX-1 mission is also only the second space tourism flight for SpaceX, following up the September 2021 launch of four private citizens on a three-day, freeflying trip through orbit that traveled eve