Private Ax-1 Astronauts Prep for Departure From Space Station As Crew-4 Mission Nears Launch

SpaceX Crew Dragon Spacecraft Approaches International Space Station

A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station for docking in this illustration. Credit: NASA/SpaceX

On Tuesday morning, NASA Commander Tom Marshburn and his six Expedition 67 flight engineers held a farewell ceremony for the four-member Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew. Four SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at the same time to prepare for their weekend launch to the International Space Station.

Watch the Axiom Mission 1 farewell ceremony on YouTube.

Marshburn called down to Mission Control today (April 19, 2022) to recognize the contribution the four Ax-1 private astronauts have made to human spaceflight. The private quartet then spoke about the research and education events they conducted on the station and thanked the Expedition 67 crew for hosting and guiding them during their 10-day stay. Ax-1 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria will lead Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe back to Earth inside the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft. At 10 p.m. EDT today, they will undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing port, which will be broadcast live on NASA TV, NASA’s website, and the NASA app. On Wednesday afternoon, the foursome will splashdown off the coast of Florida.

Expedition 67 Crew Said Farewell to Axiom Mission 1 Astronauts

The Expedition 67 crew said farewell to the Axiom Mission 1 crew today ahead of their departure planned for Tuesday night. Credit: NASA

The current seven-member Expedition 67 crew will sleep in on Wednesday following the late-night departure of the Ax-1 crew. The four astronauts and three cosmonauts will get right back to work on Thursday with more science and maintenance. Marshburn and NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron along with ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer will also check out their Crew Dragon suits ahead of their departure aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endurance in a couple of weeks. Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov will tend to their complement of Russian space research and lab upkeep tasks.

The station will stay at a seven-member crew status for just a few days until the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission. Four commercial crew astronauts representing NASA and ESA are scheduled to launch at 5:26 a.m. EDT on Saturday from Kennedy inside the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship and dock to the same port vacated by the Ax-1 mission on Sunday at 6 a.m. The quartet commanded by NASA’s Kjell Lindgren, with Pilot Robert Hines and Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins of NASA and ESA’s Samantha Cristoforetti, will live and work aboard the orbiting lab for just over four-and-a-half months. The Crew-4 astronauts will become Expedition 67 flight engineers after they open the hatches and enter the space station.

Axiom Mission 1 astronauts Michael Lopez Algeria, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, and Eytan Stibbe docked to the zenith port of the Harmony module of the International Space Station on April 9, 2022, following a launch on April 8 on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. The four crew members will conduct an eight-day mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory before undocking to return to Earth on April 17. This is the first spaceflight for Axiom Space and the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

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