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The SpaceX rocket lifts off from Florida in a historic launch to deliver an all-private crew to the International Space Station

FLORIDA — A SpaceX rocket launched from Florida on Friday, carrying a private crew to the International Space Station in a historic launch.

It’s a new chapter in human spaceflight, the first time an all-private crew has gone into space on a private, non-governmental spacecraft.

The commander, a former NASA astronaut, spoke before the flight.

“It has been a real privilege to work and train with these three remarkable gentlemen,” said Axiom Mission 1 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria. “And I can say without hesitation that we are ready to fly.”

The group consists of an American, a Canadian and an Israeli, all with deep pockets. The ride is not cheap.

They are reportedly paying nearly $55 million a ticket for more than a week in space and a trip to the International Space Station.

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“The Axiom company is a space tourism company, and they basically brought together some private individuals who paid their way to the top,” said Benjamin Dickow, executive director of the Columbia Space Center in Downey.

Each visitor has to perform a series of experiments while up there – one reason why they prefer not to be called “tourists”.

As a gift for their hosts on the space station, they bring some food prepared by celebrity chef Jose Andres.

Dickow says just being interested in a trip like this gets people talking about science.

“And I think that’s the big advantage of it,” he explained. “There’s something about space that really gets people involved in science, and that’s good for all of us.”

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Dais Johnston

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