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SpaceX's Crew-3 astronaut mission will return to Earth early Friday

The SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts don their spacesuits on the space station on April 21, 2022.
The SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts don their spacesuits on the space station on April 21, 2022. (Image credit: NASA)

SpaceX's Crew-3 astronaut mission will get to spend a few extra hours aboard the International Space Station (ISS), if all goes according to plan.

Crew-3's Dragon capsule had been scheduled to depart the ISS on Wednesday evening (May 4) and return to Earth the following day. But things have been pushed back slightly, NASA officials announced today (May 3).

"Teams from @NASA & @SpaceX now are targeting #Crew3 undocking at 1:05 am Thurs, May 5 from @Space_Station. Splashdown off of Florida's coast is planned about 12:37 am Fri, May 6. The new undocking time allows for shorter phasing & more time to review the latest forecast info," NASA human spaceflight chief Kathy Lueders said via Twitter today (opens in new tab). (The times she referenced are EDT.)

"Weather is being watched closely to confirm selected primary & alternate sites are good for return, and we'll conduct another weather review about 24 hours before undocking to determine whether we are GO to proceed. More to come," she added in another tweet (opens in new tab).

Related: 8 ways that SpaceX has transformed spaceflight

Crew-3 launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Nov. 11 and arrived at the International Space Station that same day, delivering NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron and Thomas Marshburn and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Matthias Maurer to the orbiting lab.

Marshburn commands the orbiting lab's current Expedition 67 mission, but he's getting set to hand the reins over to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. That will officially happen during a change-of-command ceremony on Wednesday (May 4) at 2:35 p.m. EDT (1835 GMT), which you can watch here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.

There are currently two SpaceX missions at the ISS; Crew-4 arrived on April 27. Like their Crew-3 counterparts, the Crew-4 astronauts — NASA's Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines and Jessica Watkins and ESA's Samantha Cristoforetti — will spend about six months aboard the orbiting lab.

The ISS has been a hub of Dragon activity lately. The private Ax-1 mission, which SpaceX flew for the Houston company Axiom Space, brought four private astronauts to the orbiting lab on April 9 for a 15-day stay.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.