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Axiom Space Ax-3 private spaceflight with SpaceX: Mission updates

Axiom Space's Ax-3 mission is the third-ever private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The mission returned to Earth on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule on Feb. 9 at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT) from off the coast of Florida after more than two weeks in space.

The crew includes Ax-3 mission commander and former NASA astronaut Michael "LA" López-Alegría, pilot Walter Villadei of the Italian Air Force, Turkey's first astronaut, Alper Gezeravcı and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut reserve member Marcus Wandt of Sweden.

Launch Video | Landing | Meet the Crew | SpaceX | Axiom Space

Tariq Malik
Tariq Malik

Tariq Malik is the Editor-in-Chief of and has been covering human spaceflight for more than 18 years and space exploration overall for more than 20 years. He covered the final 22 space shuttle missions and NASA's ongoing International Space Station and Artemis program. 

Brett Tingley headshot
Brett Tingley

Brett is a science and technology journalist who is curious about emerging concepts in spaceflight and aerospace, alternative launch concepts, anti-satellite technologies, and uncrewed systems.


Ax-3 astronauts egress Dragon capsule

The four Ax-3 astronauts have safely left their Dragon capsule, ending their three week spaceflight to the International Space Station. The four astronauts were helped out of the Freedom capsule by recovery teams on SpaceX's retrieval ship Shannon. 

Pilot Walter Villadei was the first one out, followed by ESA reserve astronaut Marcus Wandt and then Turkish astronaut Alper Gezeravci. Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria was the last to leave Dragon, ending his second private trip as an Axiom Space commander. 

SpaceX's live coverage of the Ax-3 mission has now ended. Thanks for following along and we'll resume Axiom Space updates ahead of the next flight!

Dragon hatch opened for Ax-3 astronauts

Four Ax-3 astronauts wave inside the SpaceX Dragon capsule Freedom after splashdown on Feb. 9, 2024. (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX's recovery team has opened the side hatch on the Dragon capsule Freedom to begin extracting the four Ax-3 astronaut crew. The astronauts appear in good spirits after their return to Earth. 

Ax-3 astronauts's capsule aboard recovery ship

(Image credit: SpaceX/Axiom Space)

SpaceX's recovery ship Shannon has retrieved the Ax-3 mission's Dragon capsule Freedom from the ocean. Teams are preparing to open the capsule's side hatch to help the Ax-3 astronauts egress the spacecraft.

Splashdown! Dragon lands with Ax-3 astronauts