Axiom’s return to Earth delay impacting SpaceX Crew-4 launch

AX-1 now expected to undock from the ISS Saturday

The four private astronauts of Axiom Mission 1 are staying on the International Space Station, NASA said, until the weather improves in the splashdown zones off the Florida coast.

KKENEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – The four private astronauts of Axiom Mission 1 are staying on the International Space Station, NASA said, until the weather improves in the splashdown zones off the Florida coast.

Michael Lopez-Alegria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe spoke Tuesday during a farewell ceremony with Russian crewmates and the four astronauts of Crew-3.

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Ax-1 boarded the station on April 9 while Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, Matthias Maurer and Tom Marshburn have been working in space since last fall.

Lopez-Alegria thanked the astronauts for helping his crew.

‘’How gracious and patient Crew-3 has been with us,’’ Lopez-Alegria said to Marshburn. ‘’Tom, we’re very, very grateful to you, Kayla, Raja and Matthias,’’ the Ax-1 commander said.

NASA said the crew will now undock from the ISS Saturday at 6:30 p.m., with a plan to splashdown off the coast of Florida at about 1:46 p.m. on Sunday.

Back on the ground, the next team of Commercial Crew astronauts is preparing to replace Crew-3. But first, Crew-4 needs room to dock.

NASA said it won’t launch Crew-4 until two days after Ax-1 comes home. The earliest opportunity, according to NASA, is 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 26. Additional opportunities are possible on Wednesday and Thursday.

SpaceX said Crew-4 astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti completed a launch rehearsal Wednesday where teams test-fired the Falcon 9 rocket engines.

‘’We wish the Axiom-1 crew Godspeed,’’ Marshburn said. ‘’Safe travels and I hope you have a soft splashdown and calm seas when you get back home.’’

Stick with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com for the latest times NASA and SpaceX will choose for undocking and splashdown and the launch.


About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.