The first special mission to the space station will finally return home

Zoom / On April 15, the Crew Dragon Endeavor was photographed with the Harmony module’s own space-facing international docking adapter.


The spacecraft is named Crew Dragon quest It departed from the International Space Station on Sunday evening, paving the way for the return of four special astronauts to Earth.

After slowly retreating from the orbiting lab, Endeavor is now in a position to perform a burn out of orbit on Monday, thrusting it into Earth’s atmosphere. After a fiery short flight through the atmosphere, the spacecraft will blast off off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, at 1:06 p.m. ET (17:06 UTC).

Upon landing, Ax-1 mission commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, pilot Larry Connor and mission specialist Eitan Stipe and Mark Pathy will have spent 17 days in space after their April 8 launch. It docked on the space station, but the mission was eventually extended by a week due to bad weather in the Dragon landing areas around Florida.

Axiom Space has competed for the opportunity to send this manned mission to the space station and has plans for additional “special astronaut missions” in the future when space becomes available in the station’s busy schedule. Axiom compensates NASA for food, water, air and other resources used by the visiting astronauts. However, as part of the company’s contract with NASA, Axiom is not responsible for additional resources consumed during extended stays.

NASA, SpaceX and Axiom conducted joint operations during this time quest Docked on the space station. However, after about 30 minutes of undock, The space agency said Its participation in the mission will end, and the entire landing and recovery operations will be left to SpaceX and Axiom.

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Each of the private astronauts paid $55 million for their trip to the space station and lodging there. While there have been a few private cosmonauts who have visited the space station in the past two decades, the Russian government has undertaken these missions, and active cosmonauts have been leading the flights.

Axiom hopes to send up to two special missions annually in preparation for building its own module to join the International Space Station in 2024. The company is at the forefront of US companies trying to develop commercial opportunities in low Earth orbit. Early demand for axiom flights indicates that there is significant interest in special human activity in low Earth orbit — from tourism to sports to manufacturing — but questions remain about the long-term feasibility of such plans without significant funding from NASA.

One thing seems clear: Private orbital spaceflights will be very different. Before the launch of the Ax-1 mission, the company and private astronauts said their flight was primarily about conducting scientific research. However, within about an hour of launch, Axiom Space Announces Creation In a non-fungible token marketplace for the sale of digital goods.

For its part, NASA is eager to bring the Axiom astronauts back to Earth because the four professional astronauts traveling on the Crew-4 mission are in Florida, ready to take off. Three NASA astronauts and one Italian crew member will launch a new Dragon capsule, freedomas soon as wednesday.

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