The first-ever fully private crewed mission to the International Space Station will get to spend a bit of extra time aboard the orbiting lab.
The four astronauts of Ax-1, a mission organized by Houston company Axiom Space, had been scheduled to depart the station in their SpaceX Dragon capsule at 10:35 a.m. EDT (1435 GMT) on Tuesday (April 19) and splash down off the coast of Florida early Wednesday morning (April 20).
But expected bad weather in the splashdown zone initially pushed the departure back to Tuesday night and has now imposed a further, indefinite delay.
"Due to unfavorable weather conditions, we are waving off tonight's undocking of the #Ax1 mission from @Space_Station. The integrated Axiom Space, @NASA and @SpaceX teams are assessing the next best opportunity for the return of Ax-1, the first all-private mission to the ISS," Axiom Space said via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.
Ax-1 launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on April 8 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The mission is commanded Axiom employee and former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría.
The other three crewmembers are Larry Connor, Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe, each of whom reportedly paid about $55 million for his seat.
Ax-1 will be just the beginning for Axiom Space, if all goes according to plan. The company has booked several other crewed missions to the space station with SpaceX. And, beginning in late 2024, Axiom plans to launch several modules to the ISS. These modules will eventually detach, becoming an independent private space station in Earth orbit.
Ax-1 will be coming down at a busy time for SpaceX. Elon Musk's company is gearing up to launch a big batch of its Starlink internet satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which is next door to KSC, on Thursday (April 21).
And on Saturday (April 23), SpaceX plans to launch the Crew-4 mission for NASA from KSC. Crew-4 will send three NASA astronauts and a European spaceflyer to the ISS for a lengthy stay.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 1:15 p.m. EDT on April 19 with information about the departure and splashdown webcasts, then again at 3:45 p.m. EDT on April 19 with news of the latest weather delay.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.