Commercial crew heads home from space station

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A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying 4 non-professional astronauts, the archetypal afloat commercial, non-government unit to sojourn the International Space Station, undocked from the outpost Sunday, heading for re-entry and splashdown Monday to adjacent retired an extended 17-day mission.

Capsule commandant Michael López-Alegría and co-pilot Larry Connor, flanked connected the near by Israeli Eytan Stibbe and connected the close by Canadian Mark Pathy, undocked from the abstraction station's Harmony module astatine 9:10 p.m. EDT and dilatory backed away.

"Thanks erstwhile again for each the enactment done this astonishing escapade that we've had, adjacent longer and much breathtaking than we thought," López-Alegría radioed crushed teams soon aft undocking. "We truly admit your professionalism. And with that, we'll motion off."

042422-crew.jpg The Ax-1 unit arsenic seen earlier motorboat successful the seats they'll inhabit for landing Monday (left to right): Canadian Mark Pathy, aviator Larry Connor, commandant Michael López-Alegría and Israeli Eytan Stibbe. Axiom Space

After spending a last "night" successful space, the Crew Dragon fliers planned to show an automated nine-minute firing of the spacecraft's braking rockets astatine 12:16 p.m. Monday, slowing the vessel by astir 132 mph to driblet the acold broadside of the orbit into the atmosphere.

After a half-hour freefall, the Crew Dragon volition plunge backmost into the discernible ambiance and descend crossed the heartland of America on a northwest-to-southeast trajectory toward a landing tract disconnected the seashore of Jacksonville, Florida. Splashdown is expected astatine 1:06 p.m.

Landing volition travel a week aboriginal than primitively planned acknowledgment to precocious winds and unsmooth seas successful the disposable splashdown zones and to debar conflicts with a Russian spacewalk carried retired past week. Good upwind was expected Monday.

SpaceX landing unit stationed adjacent volition beryllium poised to haul the capsule onto a institution betterment vessel and assistance the returning presumption fliers retired of the spacecraft for archetypal aesculapian checks and outer telephone calls location to household and friends. They'll past beryllium flown to enactment via helicopter.

Because this is simply a backstage charter, NASA volition person nary on-site relation successful the recovery.

The Axiom-1 ngo is the sixth piloted formation of a SpaceX Crew Dragon, the 2nd carrying non-professional astronauts connected commercialized missions to low-Earth orbit and the archetypal to marque a afloat commercialized sojourn to the abstraction station.

The ngo was carried retired with NASA's practice and encouragement, portion of an bureau inaugural to spur private-sector utilization of the International Space Station and the eventual improvement of commercialized probe stations successful Earth orbit.

Unlike affluent "space tourists" who person antecedently visited the abstraction presumption portion escorted by Russian cosmonauts, the Ax-1 unit carried retired aggregate biomedical experiments, exertion demonstrations and nationalist outreach, mirroring the benignant of enactment aboriginal NASA-sanctioned commercialized crews are expected to transportation retired aboard the abstraction station.

Houston-based Axiom Space paid for the mission, buying the Falcon 9 rocket that launched the unit connected April 8 and paying for usage of the Crew Dragon and SpaceX grooming and crushed support. The institution besides paid NASA for abstraction presumption resources and assistance by the lab's nonrecreational crew.

López-Alegría, a erstwhile astronaut and Axiom vice president, flew arsenic a institution typical portion Connor, Pathy and Stibbe paid for their seats. No outgo figures were released by Axiom, NASA oregon the 3 paying passengers.

Axiom Space plans to motorboat respective "private astronaut missions" arsenic the institution develops probe and habitation modules that volition initially beryllium attached to the International Space Station and past alert connected their ain arsenic a stand-alone laboratory analyzable aft the ISS is retired.

In: Spacewalk International Space Station NASA SpaceX

William Harwood


Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. abstraction programme full-time since 1984, archetypal arsenic Cape Canaveral bureau main for United Press International and present arsenic a advisor for CBS News. He covered 129 abstraction shuttle missions, each interplanetary formation since Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune and scores of commercialized and subject launches. Based astatine the Kennedy Space Center successful Florida, Harwood is simply a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of "Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia."