Axiom 1 mission's departure from space station postponed

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The Axiom 1 mission astronauts will spend a few extra hours aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

According to NASA, the Dragon Endeavour spacecraft's planned departure from the orbiting laboratory has been delayed due to unfavorable weather at the splashdown location for the recovery of the crew.

SPACEX CAPSULE CARRYING BUSINESSMEN WHO PAID $55M EACH DOCKS AT SPACE STATION

"Weather permitting, the four-member private astronaut crew now is targeted to undock at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, to begin the journey home with splashdown off the coast of Florida no earlier than approximately 3:24 p.m. EDT Wednesday, April 20," the agency said in a blog post. 

The hatch closure is set for 8 p.m. ET and coverage for the unlocking begins at 9:45 p.m. ET.

The 11-person crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) comprises of (clockwise from bottom right) Expedition 67 Commander Tom Marshburn with Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov, Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, and Matthi (Credit: NASA)

NASA said that teams would continue to monitor weather at the splashdown sites prior to unlocking, noting that there are additional opportunities for the crew’s departure from the space station on Wednesday.

The four Ax-1 astronauts – the first-ever fully private crewed mission to the space station – launched on April 8 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

The mission – commanded by Axiom employee and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría – included three paying crewmembers: pilot Larry Connor and mission specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy.

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They reportedly paid about $55 million for each seat.

SpaceX's Dragon Endeavour will return to Earth with more than 200 pounds of science and supplies, including NASA experiments and hardware.

"The Ax-1 mission represents both a culmination of NASA’s efforts to foster a commercial market in low-Earth orbit and the beginning of a new era of space exploration that enables more people to fly on more kinds of missions. This partnership is changing the arc of human spaceflight history by opening access to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station to more people, more science and more commercial opportunities," NASA said. 

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Axiom Space Executive Chairman Kam Ghaffarian says the company set out to build the first private commercial space station.

On Saturday morning, SpaceX plans to launch the Crew-4 mission from Kennedy Space Center. 

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Those astronauts include NASA's Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

The return of Crew-3 astronauts is planned for late April.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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