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Ax-1 crew undocks from ISS, heads back to Earth

Ax-1 crew undocks from ISS, heads back to Earth
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, carrying the crew of Axiom Space's Ax-1 mission. The crew is set to return on the spacecraft on Monday afternoon. File Photo by SpaceX/UPI | License Photo

April 24 (UPI) -- Axiom Space's private astronaut mission Ax-1 undocked from the International Space Station on Sunday night following weather-related delays.

The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour undocked from the orbital at 9:10 EDT, the space station confirmed, and was en route to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere in about 16 hours with splashdown targeted for 1:06 p.m. on Monday.

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The undocking followed the four-member Axiom crew having closed the hatch between Dragon Endeavour and the space station at around 7:26 p.m., a manoeuvre that took a little under an hour to complete.

The crew consists of Michael López-Alegría, a retired NASA astronaut who works for Axiom; Larry Connor, a real estate and technology entrepreneur; Mark Pathy, a Canadian businessman; and Eytan Stibbe, an Israeli entrepreneur and former fighter jet pilot.

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The mission was originally scheduled to last about 10 days but was extended to 15 days due to delays.

Undocking was scheduled to take place on Saturday but NASA, Axiom Space and SpaceX chose to call off the attempt "due to a diurnal low wind trough, which has been causing marginally high winds at the splashdown sites."

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On Sunday, SpaceX said that "weather is looking good" off the coast of Florida for the Ax-1 astronauts' return.

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Delays in the Ax-1 crew's return has also postponed the return of NASA's Crew-4 -- Kjell Lindgren, Jessica Watkins and Bob Hines of NASA, along with Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti -- as there are only two ports on the ISS where the Dragon can dock, and both were in use.

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