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Axiom 3 astronauts undock from ISS for trip back to Earth
Axiom 3 astronauts undock from ISS for trip back to Earth
by Doug Cunningham
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 7, 2024

Axiom 3 astronauts delivered to the International Space Station by a private mission began their journey home Wednesday as the SpaceX Dragon undocked for the return to Earth.

Astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Walter Villadei, Marcus Wandt, and Alper Gezeravci were onboard along with more than 550 pounds of science supplies, NASA experiments and hardware as they complete an 18-day space mission.

"We hope you guys had a wonderful time on the station, and we're looking forward to seeing your smiling faces in person," said a message from Mission Control about 7 minutes after Dragon undocked.

The all-European crew of astronauts did 30 experiments at the ISS, including physics and space medicine work.

The Axiom 3 mission launched Jan. 18 on a Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the third private industry manned flight to the space station.

The Dragon spacecraft is scheduled for a Friday morning splashdown off the Daytona, Fla., coast at approximately 8:30 a.m. EST.

NASA's coverage of the mission ended when Dragon left the space station area. Axiom will cover Dragon's Earth re-entry and splashdown.

Next for SpaceX is a Feb. 22 mission to the ISS for NASA. The Crew-8 mission will transport four astronauts who will stay for approximately six months.

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