The first privately funded American mission to the International Space Station is coming to an end today with the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour capsule with four crew members aboard expected to splash down off the Florida coast at about 1:06 p.m. EDT (1706 GMT).
The mission, funded by Houston-headquartered Axiom Space, left the space station after 17 days after bad weather at the landing site had delayed the departure, originally scheduled for last Tuesday (April 19), for several days.
The capsule finally undocked from the space station's Harmony module on Sunday (April 24) at 9:10 p.m. EDT (0110 GMT on April 25). Onboard were Ax-1 Commander Michael López-Alegría, Pilot Larry Connor, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy.
The mission is also returning to Earth some 200 pounds (90 kilograms) of science and supplies, including NASA experiments and hardware.
Axiom Space will stream the mission's return to Earth on its website starting at about 12 p.m. (1600 GMT), an hour before the anticipated landing.
During their time at the space station, the Ax-1 crew conducted over 25 science experiments for partner organizations including the Mayo Clinic, Montreal Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic and the Ramon Foundation.
Ax-1 is the first of a series of missions planned by Axiom Space, which ultimately aims to establish its own private space station providing commercial services to the global academic community.
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Tereza is a London-based science and technology journalist, aspiring fiction writer and amateur gymnast. Originally from Prague, the Czech Republic, she spent the first seven years of her career working as a reporter, script-writer and presenter for various TV programmes of the Czech Public Service Television. She later took a career break to pursue further education and added a Master's in Science from the International Space University, France, to her Bachelor's in Journalism and Master's in Cultural Anthropology from Prague's Charles University. She worked as a reporter at the Engineering and Technology magazine, freelanced for a range of publications including Live Science, Space.com, Professional Engineering, Via Satellite and Space News and served as a maternity cover science editor at the European Space Agency.