Endeavour splashes down successfully

UPDATE: Endeavour has successfully splashed down, and crews are approaching to recover the capsule.

This by the way completes Endeavour’s third manned flight into space.

Original post:
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The SpaceX capsule Endeavour, carrying Axiom’s first commercial passengers, undocked with ISS last night and is scheduled to splashdown off the coast of Florida shortly.

I have embedded the live stream below, scheduled to begin shortly.
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Return of Axiom mission delayed again because of weather

Because of marginal winds at the splashdown points, SpaceX, Axiom, and NASA agreed today to delay the return of Axiom’s first private mission to ISS one more day.

The Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew is now targeting to undock from the International Space Station 8:55 p.m. EDT Sunday, April 23.

Weather permitting, the Ax-1 crew is targeted to close the hatch at about 6:45 p.m. Sunday, April 24, to begin the journey home in SpaceX Dragon Endeavour with splashdown off the coast of Florida approximately 1:00 p.m. Monday, April 25.

This delay will also delay the launch of NASA’s next crew to ISS on SpaceX’s new Dragon capsule, Freedom, now scheduled for launch no earlier than April 27th.

New schedule announced for landing of AX-1 crew and launch of NASA crew

Because of poor weather at the splashdown points on Earth, SpaceX and NASA have worked out a new schedule for both the landing of Axiom’s first passenger flight to ISS as well as NASA’s next launch of astronauts.

The integrated NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams have agreed on a plan for the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew to undock from the International Space Station at 8:35 p.m. EDT Saturday, April 23, for a splashdown off the coast of Florida about 1:46 p.m. Sunday, April 24. The decision was made based on the best weather for splashdown of the first private astronaut mission to visit the International Space Station and the return trajectory required to bring the crew and the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft back to Earth safely.

…The departure of Dragon Endeavour from the space station will clear the docking port for the arrival of Dragon Freedom and NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts. The earliest potential launch opportunity for the Crew-4 mission is 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 26, with additional opportunities Wednesday, April 27, and Thursday, April 28. These launch opportunities are undergoing a more detailed program review to ensure they align with integrated operational timelines. The teams want to provide a two-day gap after Ax-1 return for data reviews from splashdown and to prepare for the Crew-4 launch, including the staging of recovery assets.

If the landing occurs on April 23rd as now planned, the Axiom passengers will have spent fifteen days in space, about four more than originally planned.

Axiom again cancels return of manned mission due to weather

Capitalism in space: Because of continuing poor weather on Earth, SpaceX & Axiom once again canceled the planned return of manned mission yesterday.

At the moment there is no word on when SpaceX’s Endeavour capsule will undock and bring its passengers home. Since a NASA crew is preparing for launch on Saturday, April 23rd, we should expect that return to occur beforehand.

This article from Israel about the delay, which also focuses on the flight of Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe, had this interesting tidbit:

Businessmen Stibbe, American Larry Connor of Ohio, and Canadian Mark Pathy have paid $55 million apiece for the rocket ride. The visitors’ tickets include access to all but the Russian portion of the space station. [emphasis mine]

When the Russians launched Dennis Tito and other tourists in 2000s, I am unsure if those tourists were allowed in the American portion of the station. My guess would be yes, but that would be a guess, and very easily wrong. During the two tourist flights to ISS in October and December it is also unclear if those passengers had access to the American half. Considering the competition for tourist flights that now exists, I would suspect no.

Return of first Axiom commercial crew from ISS delayed

Capitalism in space: Because of iffy weather at their planned splashdown point, SpaceX and Axiom have delayed the return of Axiom’s first commercial crew at ISS so that they will splashdown tomorrow.

Weather permitting, the four-member private astronaut crew now is targeted to undock at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, to begin the journey home with splashdown off the coast of Florida no earlier than approximately 3:24 p.m. EDT Wednesday, April 20.

If weather remains an issue, the return to Earth of Endeavour could be delayed further.

SpaceX successfully launches Axiom’s first commercial flight to ISS

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched the first commercial mission to ISS by the private company Axiom, carrying three passengers and one Axiom astronaut as commander.

The replay of the live stream of the launch is embedded below.

The first stage, which landed successfully on the drone ship in the Atlantic, completed its fifth flight. The capsule Endeavour was making its third flight. This is also the second private manned mission launched by SpaceX.

Docking with ISS is scheduled for early tomorrow morning.

All in all, it was a perfect launch, on time and as planned. This has become so routine for SpaceX that we tend to take it for granted. We shouldn’t. Launching people into space remains one of the hardest things humans do, and will likely always be so.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

13 SpaceX
9 China
5 Russia
2 ULA
2 Rocket Lab

The U.S. now leads China 20 to 9 in the national rankings.
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