Weather Woes Delay Private Astronauts’ Return to Earth Again

Ax-3 SpaceX Dragon Freedom Spacecraft Approaches Space Station

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft carrying the four-member Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) crew is pictured approaching the International Space Station 260 miles above China north of the Himalayas. Credit: NASA

NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than 9:05 a.m. EST Wednesday, February 7, for the undocking of Axiom Mission 3 from the International Space Station following the latest review of weather conditions off the coast of Florida. The next weather briefing is at 2 a.m. The private astronauts were originally scheduled to return to Earth on February 3, but adverse weather conditions have caused a series of postponements.

For this undocking opportunity, NASA will provide live coverage of space station joint operations with Axiom Space and SpaceX. Coverage of hatch-closure preparations will begin at 7 a.m. NASA coverage of undocking will resume at 8:45 a.m. (times subject to change based on operations).

Coverage will be available on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.

NASA’s coverage ends approximately 30 minutes after undocking when space station joint operations with Axiom Space and SpaceX mission teams conclude. Axiom Space will resume coverage of Dragon’s re-entry and splashdown on the company’s website.

SpaceX Dragon Freedom Spacecraft Carrying Four Axiom MIssion 3 Astronauts

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft carrying four Axiom MIssion 3 astronauts is pictured docked to the space station shortly after an orbital sunrise. Credit: NASA TV

Axiom Space, Inc. is a private aerospace company founded in 2016 with the vision of making living and working in space a reality for a broad range of uses and users, including national space agencies, researchers, and tourists. Based in Houston, Texas, the company’s mission is to build the world’s first commercial space station, serving as a research, manufacturing, and habitation hub in low Earth orbit. The planned Axiom Station aims to not only succeed the International Space Station (ISS) as it approaches the end of its operational life but also to serve as a foundational platform for missions to deeper space.

The company’s approach includes sending private astronauts to space, providing infrastructure for microgravity research, manufacturing products in space, and promoting space exploration. Axiom Space has partnered with NASA and other space agencies, leveraging the existing ISS for its initial missions while gradually expanding its own modular segments. These segments are intended to attach to the ISS initially, before eventually detaching to form an independent, fully functioning commercial space station.

Axiom Space’s notable achievements include organizing missions to the ISS for private astronauts and research entities, providing a turnkey solution for access to space. With a leadership team composed of former NASA officials and space industry veterans, Axiom Space is at the forefront of expanding human presence in low Earth orbit and beyond, with the ultimate goal of paving the way for humanity’s future in space.

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