KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – After spending more than two weeks in space, the crew of the Axiom Mission 3 now gets extra days in space after storms near Florida delayed their return to this coming week.
The crew was originally scheduled to come home Saturday, but SpaceX announced that the crew of four would spend additional days in space due to poor weather conditions expected this weekend in the recovery zone off Florida.
SpaceX was targeting no earlier than Tuesday morning to undock the Dragon from the International Space Station, beginning the crew's journey back to Earth. However, the night before their departure, NASA and SpaceX said the weather was still unsafe for the crew to splashdown.
Teams are now targeting Wednesday at 7 a.m. to begin undocking the Dragon from the ISS, and returning the crew home.
"The spacecraft and Ax-3 crew remain healthy, and teams will continue to monitor weather conditions for the next available undocking opportunity," SpaceX said.
Walter Villadei of Italy, Michael López-Alegría of Spain, Alper Gezeravcı of Turkey and Marcus Wandt of Sweden made up the all-European crew that blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 18.
While aboard the International Space Station, the crew conducted more than 30 experiments on biomedical research, sleep, bone health, space weather and even how to cook pasta in space.
The Dragon spacecraft will remain attached to the ISS until ground crews can determine that winds and seas have subsided enough in the splashdown zone.
SpaceX can retrieve the Crew Dragon spacecraft and its crew from seven potential landing sites off both Florida's Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
"Mission teams will monitor weather at the possible splashdown sites prior to undocking to ensure conditions are acceptable for a safe recovery of the spacecraft and Ax-3 astronauts," Axiom Space said in an update.
According to NASA, wind speeds cannot be greater than 15 feet per second, and lightning must be at least 10 miles away from the protected boundary. Wave height can be no greater than a 7-degree wave slope.
"Ax-3 is the third of several proposed Axiom Space human spaceflight missions, and a critical step along the journey toward Axiom Station, the world’s first commercial space station," the Houston-based company said.
The Ax-3 mission is the third all-private crewed mission to the ISS for Houston-based Axiom Space, with previous missions taking place in 2022 and 2023.
A SpaceX mission to send three NASA astronauts and one cosmonaut to the space station is set to lift off from Florida’s Space Coast in late February.
The next Axiom mission, Ax-4, isn't slated to launch until October at the earliest.