A SpaceX Dragon crew capsule has started its journey home with four Ax-3 astronauts aboard.
The crew capsule undocked from the International Space Stations after an 18-day mission this morning at 9:20 a.m. EST and is set to splashdown off of the Florida coastline on Friday.
Commander Michael López-Alegría, mission specialist Alper Gezeravcı, mission specialist Marcus Wandt, and pilot Walter Villadei are onboard after two weeks at the ISS. It was the first all-European private astronaut crew.
They are expected to return to Earth around 8:30 a.m. Friday.
This morning, SpaceX shared a video of the Dragon crew capsule separating from the ISS:
Dragon separation confirmed! pic.twitter.com/g04pZ81RdS
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 7, 2024
“After performing a series of burns to move away from the space station, Dragon will conduct multiple orbit-lowering maneuvers, jettison its trunk, and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere for splashdown off the coast of Florida approximately 47.5 hours later on Friday, February 9,” SpaceX said, via Florida Today.
Splashdown will occur in the airspace near Jacksonville, Florida, according to the FAA.
The undocking was set for Tuesday, but Ax-3’s separation from the ISS was delayed due to unfavorable weather conditions at its oceanic splashdown location.
— Michael L-A (@CommanderMLA) February 5, 2024
The crew conducted more than 30 scientific experiments while aboard the ISS, and are returning to Earth with more than 550 pounds of cargo, according to NASA.
Mike Baine, Axiom Space’s Chief Technology officer, said the company is on track to launch its first module from Florida to the ISS by late 2026.
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