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Ax-3 Astronauts Undock From Space Station in SpaceX Dragon for Earth Return

Thrusters on the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft fire automatically while adjusting the vehicle’s slow, methodical approach toward the International Space Station for a docking to the Harmony module’s forward port. Credit: NASA

Ax-3 mission concludes as SpaceXCommonly known as SpaceX, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company that was founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, the company designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. SpaceX's ultimate goal is to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>SpaceX Dragon heads home with astronauts and science aboard, aiming for a Florida coast return.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft undocked from the space-facing port of the International Space StationThe International Space Station (ISS) is a large spacecraft in orbit around the Earth that serves as a research laboratory and spaceport for international collaboration in space exploration. It was launched in 1998 and has been continuously occupied by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world since 2000. The ISS is a joint project of five space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). It orbits the Earth at an altitude of approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles), and provides a unique platform for scientific research, technological development, and human space exploration.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>International Space Station’s Harmony module at 9:20 a.m. ESTEST is an abbreviation for Eastern Standard Time, the time zone for the eastern coast of the United States and Canada when observing standard time (autumn/winter). It is five hours behind Coordinated Universal Time. New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, and the Kennedy Space Center are in the Eastern Time Zone (ET).” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>EST over the Pacific Ocean, west of Ecuador, to complete the third all-private astronaut mission to the orbiting laboratory, Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3).

Dragon is slowly maneuvering away from the orbital laboratory into an orbital track that will return the astronaut crew and its cargo safely to Earth, targeting a splashdown off the coast of Daytona, Florida, at approximately 8:30 a.m. EST Friday, February 9.

SpaceX Dragon Freedom Spacecraft Backs Away From Space Station

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft (left) backs away from the space station carrying four Axiom Mission 3 astronauts. The SpaceX Dragon Endurance (right) is pictured docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. Credit: NASA TV

Ax-3 astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Walter Villadei, Marcus Wandt, and Alper Gezeravci will complete 18 days aboard the orbiting laboratory at the conclusion of their mission. The SpaceX Dragon will return to Earth with more than 550 pounds of science and supplies, including NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>NASA experiments and hardware.

Joint operations with the Axiom and SpaceX mission teams end and NASA coverage of the mission concludes when the spacecraft exits the area of the space station, approximately 30 minutes after undocking.

Axiom Space leads independent mission operations for Ax-3 and will resume coverage of Dragon’s re-entry and splashdown.

Axiom Mission 3 Crew Members Seated Inside the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Preparing for Undocking

The Axiom Mission 3 crew members are seated inside the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft preparing for their undocking from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) marked the third all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), orchestrated by SpaceX and Axiom Space. The mission featured a crew of four: Michael López-Alegría, Walter Villadei, Marcus Wandt, and Alper Gezeravci, who spent 18 days in orbit conducting scientific research and experiments.

Ax-3 not only demonstrated the expanding capabilities of private space exploration but also contributed valuable scientific data to Earth-based researchers, showcasing the collaborative potential between governmental and private entities in the realm of space travel and research.

Source: SciTechDaily