The first all-European private astronaut mission has departed the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the same SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that took it there just over two weeks ago.
The four Ax-3 crewmembers are expected to splash down off the Florida coast on Friday morning, and the homecoming will be streamed live. Read on for more information on how to watch the spacecraft and its occupants during the final stages of the mission.
The Ax-3 crew comprises private astronauts Walter Villadei, Alper Gezeravcı, and Marcus Wandt, and professional astronaut Michael López-Alegría. It’s the third private mission organized by Texas-based Axiom Space in partnership with SpaceX and NASA, with first two taking place in April 2022 and May 2023.
They arrived at the ISS on January 19 and have spent their time carrying out science research, participating in outreach events, and capturing sublime photos of Earth.
The journey home was supposed to begin last Saturday, but the departure was put on hold due to poor weather conditions at the landing site.
The forecast has now improved, and on Wednesday the crew climbed aboard the Crew Dragon, undocking from the orbital outpost at 9:20 a.m. ET.
Besides the four crewmembers, the Crew Dragon is also bringing back more than 550 pounds of science and supplies, including NASA experiments and hardware.
How to watch
The Ax-3 mission is set to come to a close on Friday, February 9, when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon enters Earth’s atmosphere and descends with a parachute-assisted landing in the ocean off the coast of Daytona, Florida.
Coverage of the homecoming will be streamed live by NASA and also by Axiom Space. You can watch events unfold via the video player at the top of this page or by heading to NASA’s YouTube channel, which will carry the same live feed.
The broadcast will begin at 7:25 a.m. ET on Friday and the splashdown is expected to take place at 8:30 a.m. ET or soon after.
Viewers will be able to enjoy close-up footage of the Crew Dragon as it descends, as well as parachute deployment, splashdown, recovery, and the moment the crew emerges from the capsule. You’ll also be able to listen in on communications between mission controllers on the ground and the crew as the spacecraft heads toward Earth.