Commander Tom Marshburn of NASA joined his six Expedition 67 flight engineers and held a farewell ceremony for the four-member Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew on Tuesday morning. At the same time back on Earth, four SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to prepare for their launch to the International Space Station this weekend.
Marshburn called down to Mission Control today to recognize the contribution the four Ax-1 private astronauts have made to human spaceflight. The private quartet then spoke about the research and education events they conducted and thanked the Expedition 67 crew for hosting and guiding them during their 10-day stay on the station. Ax-1 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria will lead Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe back to Earth inside the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour. They will undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing port at 10 p.m. EDT today live on NASA TV on NASA’s website and the app. The foursome will splashdown off the coast of Florida on Wednesday afternoon.
The current seven-member Expedition 67 crew will sleep in on Wednesday following the late night departure of the Ax-1 crew. The four astronauts and three cosmonauts will get right back to work on Thursday with more science and maintenance. Marshburn and NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron along with ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer will also check out their Crew Dragon suits ahead of their departure aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endurance in a couple of weeks. Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov will tend to their complement of Russian space research and lab upkeep tasks.
The station will stay at a seven-member crew status for just a few days until the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission. Four commercial crew astronauts representing NASA and ESA are scheduled to launch at 5:26 a.m. EDT on Saturday from Kennedy inside the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship and dock to the same port vacated by the Ax-1 mission on Sunday at 6 a.m. The quartet commanded by NASA’s Kjell Lindgren, with Pilot Robert Hines and Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins of NASA and ESA’s Samantha Cristoforetti, will live and work aboard the orbiting lab for just over four-and-a-half months. The Crew-4 astronauts will become Expedition 67 flight engineers after they open the hatches and enter the space station.
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