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SpaceX’s private X-1 astronaut mission leaves space station on Sunday

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The SpaceX Dragon Capsule Endeavor has been docked at the International Space Station. Endeavor has taken four members of Axiom Space’s Ax-1 mission to the laboratory in orbit. The Ax-1 will depart on April 23, 2022 and will splash down a day later. (Photo credit: NASA)

Update for 12:30 pm ET: Undoing of the Ax-1 astronaut crew from the International Space Station has been postponed until Sunday, April 24, due to bad weather on SpaceX’s splashdown sites. Undoing is now targeted for 8:55 p.m. EDT Sunday (0055 April 25 GMT), SplashDown is scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).

The first all-private astronaut mission on the International Space Station (ISS) is on its way home, and you can watch the departure live.

A SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying four crew members on the Ax-1 mission will leave the laboratory in orbit today (April 23) after a two-week stay. The hatches between Dragon and ISS will close at about 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT), and the SpaceX craft will be unloaded exactly two hours later.

You can watch these milestones live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency. Coverage of hatch closure will start at 4:15 p.m. EDT (2015 GMT), and the undocking webcast will commence at 6:15 p.m. EDT (2215 GMT).

If all goes according to plan, the Dragon capsule, named Endeavour, will splash down off the Florida coast on Sunday (April 24) at 1:46 p.m. EDT (1746 GMT). You can follow that action live here, too, courtesy of Axiom Space, the company that organized the Ax-1 mission. Axiom’s splashdown webcast will start at 12:45 p.m. EDT (1645 GMT) on Sunday.

The Ax-1 is operated by NASA’s former astronaut Michael Lopez-Allegria, who is now Axiom’s vice president of business development. The other three crew members are paying customers – American Larry Connor, Canadian Mark Pathiy and Israeli Itan Steve.

The Ax-1 launches a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on April 8 and reaches the ISS a day later. The mission was scheduled to leave the orbiting lab on Tuesday (April 19), but bad weather in the splashdown zone delayed the departure by several days.

The delay affected the crew-4 flight for NASA’s next space mission, SpaceX. Crew-4 was scheduled to depart on Saturday, but it will not start until Tuesday (April 26). NASA officials say they want a two-day window between the splashdown of the Ax-1 and the launch of the Crew-4, to allow time for data analysis and other preparations.

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