Private astronauts return to Earth, making room for Crew-4 on the International Space Station

The Axiom-I private astronaut mission that launched on April 8 was only supposed to be a ten day journey. After weather delayed their return, the Axiom crew is back on Earth, making way for NASA and ESA astronauts to take their place.

Weather in the splashdown location kept the private astronauts about the station for a few days longer than initially intended – though I doubt they’re complaining!

The four astronauts launched to the ISS on April 8. The commander of the mission is Michael Lopez Alegria, an experienced former NASA astronaut. He was joined by three paying customers: Larry Conner, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy.

On Sunday, the splashdown weather was clear enough to proceed with the undocking of the spacecraft, and the capsule splashed down early this afternoon.

With Crew Dragon Endeavour and its passengers now safety back on Earth, NASA and SpaceX can turn their full attention to Crew-4 and Crew Dragon Freedom.

One week ago, the Crew-4 astronauts arrived at Kennedy Space Center ahead of their launch. They were supposed to launch on Saturday, April 23. As Axiom was delayed, so was Crew-4. Crew Dragon Freedom will dock to the same location as Endeavour did, and the teams wanted to have two days to review data after the Axiom splashed down before Crew-4 launched.

Now, the Crew-4 astronauts are getting ready for launch early Wednesday morning.

Featured image credit: SpaceX

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