- SpaceX astronauts on the Ax-1 ISS mission will return on Monday, NASA’s head of spaceflights said.
- Poor weather conditions delayed the return of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship.
- NASA said it doesn’t expect the delay to impact another crewed orbital mission on Wednesday.
SpaceX astronauts returning from the International Space Station (ISS) will spend a day free flying in orbit before plunging into the atmosphere and landing in Florida waters, CNN reported.
Kathy Lueders, NASA’s head of human spaceflight programs, said on Friday that the spacecraft will aim to undock from the ISS on Sunday.
The astronauts flew to the ISS on April 8 as part of the privately funded Axiom Mission 1, also known as Ax-1.
“We want about 2-days between #Ax1 return & Crew-4 launch for @NASA & @SpaceX to complete data reviews & stage recovery assets. In this case, 39-hours between operations gives us enough time to finish up the work. If needed, we’ll adjust Crew-4’s launch to ensure we are ready,” Lueders said in a tweet.
Lueders also said the space agency was watching the weather closely after the trip home was delayed by a week due to poor conditions.
The mission had been due to last eight days but the delay means the astronauts are now expected to splash down on Monday.
NASA has been planning for another SpaceX crewed orbital flight, named Crew-4, to launch on Wednesday. Lueders said the Ax-1’s late return will have no impact on the Crew-4’s launch date.
Ax-1 includes a crew of four in the first all-private flight, which took place aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship.
Commanding the mission is Axiom president and retired astronaut, Michael López-Alegría. The crew also includes entrepreneurs Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe, who reportedly paid $55 million each for the flight.
Axiom is expected to launch a second commercial mission to the ISS in late 2022 or spring 2023. Record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson will serve as commander and John Shoffner will act as mission pilot.