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SpaceX, NASA delay return to Earth of Crew-2 astronauts on Dragon spaceship

The four astronauts of NASA and SpaceX's Crew-2 mission pose inside their Crew Dragon Endeavour before leaving the International Space Station. They are: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet (front left); NASA astronaut Megan McArthur (back left); NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough (back right); and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.
The four astronauts of NASA and SpaceX's Crew-2 mission pose inside their Crew Dragon Endeavour before leaving the International Space Station. They are: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet (front left); NASA astronaut Megan McArthur (back left); NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough (back right); and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. (Image credit: ESA/Thomas Pesquet <a href=https://twitter.com/Thom_astro/status/1457019779244601348>via Twitter</a>)

SpaceX and NASA have pushed back the return to Earth of four astronauts on the International Space Station to late Monday (Nov. 8) due to bad weather at their splashdown site. 

The astronauts of SpaceX's Crew-2 mission for NASA will now undock from the space station Monday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. EST (1905 GMT) — a day later than planned — and splash down that night off the Florida coast at 10:33 p.m. EST (0333 GMT). You can watch it all live here and on the Space.com homepage, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 11:45 a.m. EST (1645 GMT). 

Previously, the astronauts had planned to depart the station Sunday afternoon for a Monday morning splashdown. They'll now have to wait an extra day to make the trip. "Mission teams decided to adjust the Sunday, Nov. 7, undocking following a planned weather review showing high winds unfavorable for recovery near the splashdown zone in the Gulf of Mexico," NASA officials wrote in a statement late Saturday. 

Live updates: SpaceX's Crew-2 and Crew-3 astronaut missions

The SpaceX Crew-2 splashdown will return NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur to Earth alongside Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet. The four space travelers launched to the International Space Station on their Crew Dragon Endeavour in April and will have spent 199 days in space by the time they return.

Crew Dragon Endeavour is expected to splash down at one of seven different target sites off Florida's coast in either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX and NASA will pick a primary and alternate site shortly before landing, NASA officials have said. On Saturday, NASA officials said they would likely not announce the final splashdown selection until after landing due to safety concerns.

"NASA and SpaceX closely coordinate with the U.S. Coast Guard to establish a safety zone around the expected splashdown location to ensure safety for the public and for those involved in the recovery operations, as well as the crew aboard the returning spacecraft," NASA officials wrote in a statement. That safety protocol was needed after private boats swarmed SpaceX's first crewed capsule during recovery operations for its Demo-2 mission in August 2020.

The Crew-2 mission is SpaceX's third human spaceflight for NASA and the second of six crewed missions for the agency under a multibillion-dollar contract with the agency's Commercial Crew program. The company is also preparing to launch its next crewed flight for NASA, a four-person mission called Crew-3, which has been delayed by bad weather and a minor medical issue with one of its four crewmembers. 

The Crew-3 astronauts are now scheduled to launch no earlier than Wednesday, Nov. 10, from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff is set for 9:03 p.m. EST (0403 GMT). 

The Crew-3 mission will launch NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer on a six-month mission to the International Space Station.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.