Watch Ax-3 astronauts leave ISS in SpaceX Dragon capsule early Feb. 3

The four astronauts of the private Ax-3 mission will depart the International Space Station in their SpaceX Dragon capsule on Saturday morning (Feb. 3) and you can watch the action live.

Ax-3’s Crew Dragon “Freedom” is scheduled to undock from the orbiting lab Saturday at 6:05 a.m. EST (1105 GMT), according to NASA officials. You can watch live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the agency. Coverage will begin at 5:45 a.m. EST (1045 GMT).

Freedom is expected to make a parachute-aided ocean splashdown off the Florida coast around 7:10 p.m. EST on Saturday (0010 GMT on Sunday, Feb. 4). You can watch that here, too, if a webcast is available.

Ax-3 is the third crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) organized by Houston-based company Axiom Space, after similar efforts in April 2022 and May 2023. 

Ax-3 launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 18, sending four crewmembers aloft. They are Ax-3 commander Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut who’s now Axiom Space’s chief astronaut; pilot Walter Villadei, a colonel in the Italian Air Force; mission specialist Alper Gezeravcı, Turkey’s first-ever astronaut; and mission specialist Marcus Wandt, a reserve astronaut with the European Space Agency.

López-Alegría holds dual U.S.-Spanish citizenship, so Axiom Space bills Ax-3 as the first all-European crewed mission to the ISS.

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— Live updates from the Ax-3 private astronaut mission

— International Space Station — Everything you need to know

— Meet the 4 astronauts of SpaceX’s Ax-3 launch for Axiom Space 

Ax-3 is the first orbital mission for Villadei, Gezeravcı and Wandt (though Villadei did go to suborbital space with Virgin Galactic last year). López-Alegría, by contrast, is an old hand at this; Ax-3 is his sixth orbital trip. One of his previous missions was Ax-1 in 2022, so he’s the first person ever to fly on a Dragon capsule twice.

The Ax-3 quartet have been performing more than 30 different scientific experiments during their time in orbit, including work in physics and space medicine. Some of their research will help Axiom Space improve its training programs ahead of future missions, company representatives have said.

While Ax-3 is winding down, SpaceX is gearing up for another astronaut flight: The Crew-8 mission for NASA, which will send four spaceflyers to the ISS for a roughly six-month stay. Crew-8 is currently targeted to lift off on Feb. 22.

Source: Space.com

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