Mission Managers Continue Planning Crew Dragon Departure

Expedition 67 Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Jessica Watkins, both from NASA, and Samantha Cristoforetti from ESA (European Space Agency) are pictured check out systems inside the Kibo laboratory module.
Expedition 67 Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Jessica Watkins, both from NASA, and Samantha Cristoforetti from ESA (European Space Agency) are pictured check out systems inside the Kibo laboratory module.

NASA and SpaceX managers continue to plan for the departure of four commercial crew astronauts aboard the International Space Station this week. A change of command is also on tap as the 11 orbital residents transition to a seven-member crew before the end of the week.

NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer are nearing the end of their space research mission that began in November. The quartet will first see Marshburn hand over station command to Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev who will lead Expedition 67 until late summer. The following day, the four astronauts will enter the SpaceX Dragon Endurance, undock from the Harmony module’s forward port, then splashdown off the coast of Florida about 24 hours later.

The four departing astronauts have been handing over their responsibilities to the station’s newest quartet that arrived on April 27 aboard the Dragon Freedom. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins with Samantha Cristoforetti from ESA are in the first week of a four-and-a-half-month research mission on the orbiting lab.

Flight Engineers Hines and Watkins partnered once again inside the Columbus laboratory module exploring how microgravity affects their dexterous manipulation. Lindgren worked on cargo operations inside the Cygnus space freighter then took a robotics test that measures behavioral conditions during spaceflight. Cristoforetti worked on exercise machine components and spent time on station familiarization activities.

Over in the Russian segment of the station, Artemyev took turns with Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov working out for a study exploring ways to maximize the effectiveness of exercise in weightlessness. Flight Engineer Denis Matveev worked on resupply activities inside the ISS Progress 80 cargo craft before cleaning ventilation systems.


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Station Crew Changes Command on Tuesday Ahead of Departure

This mosaic depicts the space station pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour on Nov. 8, 2021.
This mosaic depicts the space station pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour on Nov. 8, 2021.

Four astronauts who have been aboard the International Space Station since November continue to prepare for their return to Earth. This comes at the same time as four new astronauts are beginning their mission and getting used to living and working aboard the orbiting lab.

Expedition 67 Commander Tom Marshburn is getting ready to hand over station control to Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev. The traditional change of command ceremony will take place Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. EDT live on NASA TV’s app and website, when the station’s nine flight engineers witness Marshburn handing over the station’s leadership role to Artemyev.

In the meantime, Marshburn and Flight Engineers Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer, are packing up and preparing for their return to Earth. The quartet will board the SpaceX Dragon Endurance later this week then undock from the Harmony module’s forward port ending their stay on the space station. Chari will command the ride back home when the foursome parachutes to a splashdown off the coast of Florida about a day after undocking.

Meanwhile, the station’s four newest crew members, who have been on the station less than a week, are kicking off their first science experiments while also getting up to speed with lab systems and operations.

NASA’s first time space-flyers Robert Hines and Jessica Watkins worked in the Columbus laboratory module on Monday and explored how microgravity affects their dexterous manipulation. NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren, on his second mission, collected and stored his blood and urine samples then spent the rest of the day on station familiarization and handover activities. ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti serviced life support equipment while also spending time adapting to life on the space station.

Artemyev, on his third space station mission, is about to take command of the Expedition 67 crew until late summer. Today, he worked on a pair of Russian experiments exploring future spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques, as well as effective ways to exercise in weightlessness. Flight Engineer Denis Matveev inspected the ISS Progress 80 cargo craft then continued cleaning up after April 28’s spacewalk to activate the European robotic arm. Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov swapped out a Russian computer before participating in more space exercise research at the end of the day.

SpaceX Crew-4 Launches to Join Station Crew Tonight

The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard the Dragon Freedom crew ship atop the Falcon 9 rocket. CRedit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard the Dragon Freedom crew ship atop the Falcon 9 rocket. CRedit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are in orbit following their launch to the International Space Station at 3:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday, April 27, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The international crew of astronauts will serve as the fourth commercial crew rotation mission aboard the space station.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Dragon spacecraft into orbit carrying Mission Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, all NASA astronauts, and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency). The crew will conduct a science expedition in microgravity aboard the space station.

“Liftoff! The past few days at Kennedy Space Center have been inspiring and busy with the return of the Axiom crew and now the successful launch of Crew-4 astronauts to the International Space Station,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Aboard station, Kjell, Bob, Jessica, and Samantha will carry out research investigations that will help NASA prepare for longer duration stays on the Moon – and eventually Mars. These missions wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated NASA and SpaceX teams here on Earth. Godspeed, Crew-4!”

This Crew-4 mission is the first launch for Hines and Watkins, and the second flight to the station for Lindgren and Cristoforetti. It launched in a new Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew, and a Falcon 9 booster flying its fourth mission into space. This is the fifth SpaceX flight with NASA astronauts – including the Demo-2 test flight in 2020 to the space station – as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

During Dragon’s flight, SpaceX will monitor a series of automatic spacecraft maneuvers from its mission control center in Hawthorne, California, and NASA teams will monitor space station operations throughout the flight from the Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Dragon will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 27. NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing ongoing live coverage through docking, and hatch opening. NASA also will cover the ceremony to welcome the crew aboard the orbital outpost about 2:40 a.m. on Thursday, April 28.

“NASA, SpaceX and our international partners have worked tirelessly to ensure that the International Space Station continues conducting important research in microgravity, and working on a whole host of activities that benefit humanity and opens up access to more people in space,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. “Crew-4’s launch, less than two days after the return of the first all-private mission to station, exemplifies the spirit and success of the Commercial Crew Program to help maximize use of low-Earth orbit for years to come, testing the technologies we need for the Artemis program and beyond.”

Lindgren, Hines, Watkins, and Cristoforetti will join the space station’s Expedition 67 crew of Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, all NASA astronauts, Matthias Maurer of ESA, and cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveev of Roscosmos. For a short time, the number of crew aboard the space station will increase to 11 people until Crew-3 astronauts Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer return to Earth a few days later.

Crew-4 is the third commercial crew mission to fly an ESA astronaut.

“It gives me great pleasure to see the successful launch of Samantha Cristoforetti and her Crew-4 colleagues. Samantha will take over from Matthias Maurer and continue to represent Europe and support European experiments aboard the space station throughout her mission,” says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.

ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker adds, “Samantha has been an excellent role model – even more so as on the space station she will take on the role of USOS lead, responsible for operations within the U.S. Orbital Segment of the International Space Station, comprising of American, European, Japanese and Canadian modules and components.”

The Crew-4 astronauts will spend several months aboard the space station conducting new scientific research in areas such as materials science, health technologies, and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and to benefit life on Earth.

The Crew-4 mission continues NASA’s efforts to maintain American leadership in human spaceflight. Regular, long-duration commercial crew rotation missions enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place aboard the station. Such research benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars, starting with the agency’s Artemis missions, which includes landing the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface.

Lindgren is commander of the Dragon spacecraft and the Crew-4 mission. He is responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry, and will serve as an Expedition 67 flight engineer. This will be Lindgren’s second spaceflight since becoming an astronaut in 2009. In 2015, he spent 141 days aboard the orbital laboratory as a flight engineer for expeditions 44 and 45. Board certified in emergency medicine, he previously worked at NASA Johnson as a flight surgeon supporting space station training and operations and served as a deputy crew surgeon for space shuttle flight STS-130 and Expedition 24. Lindgren was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and spent most of his childhood in England before graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Hines is the pilot of the Dragon spacecraft and second in command for the mission. He is responsible for spacecraft systems and performance. Aboard the station, he will serve as an Expedition 67 flight engineer. This will be his first flight since his selection as an astronaut in 2017. Hines has served more than 22 years in the U.S. Air Force as a test pilot, fighter pilot, and instructor pilot. Before his selection in 2017, he was a research pilot at Johnson.

Watkins is a mission specialist for Crew-4 and will work closely with the commander and pilot to monitor the spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. Once aboard the station, she will seve as a flight engineer for Expedition 67. Watkins grew up in Lafayette, Colorado, and studied geology at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, and the University of California, Los Angeles. As a geologist, she studied the surface of Mars and was a science team collaborator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, working on the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity. She also was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2017, and this will be her first trip to space.

Cristoforetti will also serve as a mission specialist, working to monitor the Dragon spacecraft during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. She will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 67. This will be her second trip to space following five months in 2015 as a flight engineer for Expeditions 42 and 43. Born in Milan, Italy, she was a fighter pilot in the Italian Air Force prior to being selected as an ESA astronaut in 2009. In 2019, she served as commander for NASA’s 23rd Extreme Environment Mission Operations mission on a 10-day stay in Aquarius, the world’s only undersea research station.

Learn more about NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 and Commercial Crew Program at: https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Station Crew Looks to Crew-4 Arrival and Spacewalk This Week

The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts (from left) with Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, Pilot Robert Hines, Commander Kjell Lindgren and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti.
The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts (from left) with Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, Pilot Robert Hines, Commander Kjell Lindgren, and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti.

The Expedition 67 crew is gearing up for the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission following Sunday’s departure of the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew. The International Space Station will also see another spacewalk to set up a new robotic arm.

The orbiting lab’s four astronauts from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) slept in on Monday after seeing off the Ax-1 crew on Sunday evening. Commander Tom Marshburn and Flight Engineers Raja Chari, Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer woke up just before lunch time on the orbital lab and worked on housecleaning duties while testing a garment that may prevent space-caused dizziness and blurred vision, also known as orthostatic intolerance.

The next mission, SpaceX Crew-4, to visit the space station is at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four commercial crew astronauts are in final preparations for launch aboard the Dragon Freedom targeted for 3:52 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Robert Hines and Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti, would dock to the station several hours later to begin a four-and-a-half month stay on the orbiting lab.

Two cosmonauts are once again getting ready for a spacewalk to activate the European robotic arm (ERA) attached to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev are scheduled to exit the Poisk module’s airlock at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Thursday for a six-and-a-half hour excursion to set up the ERA for its first motion. The ERA is the station’s third robotic arm and will operate on the space lab’s Russian segment for both payload and spacewalk operations.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov joined his cosmonaut crew mates today and reviewed the spacewalk tasks planned for Thursday. Korsakov will be inside the station assisting the spacewalkers and helping them in and out of their Orlan spacesuits. Artemyev and Matveev will release the ERA launch locks on Nauka, install new handrails, and monitor the robotic arm’s first motion.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Dragon Endeavour Departs Station With Axiom Space Astronauts

April 26, 2022: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon Endurance; the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter; and Russia's Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and the Progress 79 and 80 resupply ships.
April 26, 2022: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon Endurance; the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and the Progress 79 and 80 resupply ships.

The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft undocked from the space-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 9:10 p.m. EDT to complete the first all-private astronaut mission to the orbiting laboratory. Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1).

The Crew Dragon is slowly maneuvering away from the orbital laboratory into an orbital track that will return the astronaut crew and its cargo safely to Earth, targeting a splashdown off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, targeted for 1:06 p.m. EDT Monday, April 25.

Ax-1 Commander Michael López-Alegría, Pilot Larry Connor, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy will complete 17 days in space at the conclusion of their mission. SpaceX Dragon Endeavour, the Ax-1 spacecraft, will return to Earth with more than 200 pounds of science and supplies, including NASA experiments and hardware.

Joint operations with the Axiom and SpaceX mission teams end and NASA coverage of the mission concludes when the spacecraft exits the area of the space station, approximately 30 minutes after undocking.

Axiom Space leads independent mission operations for Ax-1 and will resume coverage of Dragon’s re-entry and splashdown beginning about an hour before splashdown at 12 p.m. Monday, April 25, on the company’s website.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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NASA TV Broadcasts Departure of Axiom Mission 1 Astronauts

The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour carrying four Axiom Mission 1 astronauts is pictured approaches the International Space Station on April 9, 2022.
The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour carrying four Axiom Mission 1 astronauts is pictured approaches the International Space Station on April 9, 2022.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing live coverage from the International Space Station for the closure of the hatches between the station and the Dragon Endeavour spacecraft to prepare for undocking and departure of the first private astronaut mission to the station, Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1).

Hatch closure is expected at about 6:50 p.m. EDT. The four-member private astronaut crew is scheduled to undock at 8:55 p.m. Sunday, April 24, to begin the journey home with splashdown off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, targeted for about 1:06 p.m. EDT Monday, April 25.

NASA coverage will break following hatch closure and resume at 8:30 p.m. in advance of the planned undocking at 8:55 p.m. and will continue until about 30 minutes after undocking when joint operations with the Axiom and SpaceX mission teams ends.

Ax-1 Commander Michael López-Alegría, Pilot Larry Connor, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy will complete 17 days in space at the conclusion of their mission. SpaceX Dragon Endeavour, the Ax-1 spacecraft, will return to Earth with more than 200 pounds of science and supplies, including NASA experiments and hardware.

The Ax-1 mission represents both a culmination of NASA’s efforts to foster a commercial market in low-Earth orbit and the beginning of a new era of space exploration that enables more people to fly on more kinds of missions.


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Teams are Go for Axiom Mission 1 Undocking Tonight

The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour crew ship that carried four Axiom Mission 1 astronauts to the space station is pictured docked to the Harmony module.
The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour crew ship that carried four Axiom Mission 1 astronauts to the space station is pictured docked to the Harmony module.

At the conclusion of a weather briefing today, NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams elected to proceed with today’s undocking of the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) from the International Space Station at 8:55 p.m. EDT.

Ax-1 Commander Michael López-Alegría, Pilot Larry Connor, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy are targeted to close the hatch about 6:50 p.m.  to begin the journey home in SpaceX Dragon Endeavour with splashdown off the coast of Florida approximately 1:06 p.m. Monday, April 25.

NASA Ax-1 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Sunday, April 24 

  • 6:30 p.m. – Coverage begins for hatch closure at approximately 6:50 p.m.
  • 8:30 p.m. – Coverage begins for undocking at about 8:55 p.m.

Axiom Space will resume coverage of Dragon’s re-entry and splashdown beginning at noon Monday, April 25, on the company’s website.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Axiom Mission 1 Undock Postponed to Sunday, Space Station Reboosts

The full quarter Moon is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 261 miles above the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida on April 9, 2022.
The full quarter Moon is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 261 miles above the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida on April 9, 2022.

At the conclusion of a weather briefing ahead of today’s planned undocking, NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams elected to wave off today’s undocking attempt due to a diurnal low wind trough which has been causing marginally high winds at the splashdown sites. The Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew is now targeting to undock from the International Space Station 8:55 p.m. EDT Sunday, April 24.

Weather permitting, the Ax-1 crew is targeted to close the hatch about 6:45 p.m. Sunday, April 24, to begin the journey home in SpaceX Dragon Endeavour with splashdown off the coast of Florida approximately 1:00 p.m. Monday, April 25.

NASA Ax-1 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Sunday, April 24

  • 6:30 p.m. – Coverage begins for hatch closure at approximately 6:45 p.m.
  • 8:30 p.m. – Coverage begins for undocking at about 8:55 p.m.

Axiom Space will resume coverage of Dragon’s re-entry and splashdown beginning at noon Monday, April 25, on the company’s website.

The Russian Progress 79 fired its thrusters for 10 minutes, 23 seconds today at 9:25 a.m. This space station reboost maneuver optimizes phasing for future visiting vehicles arriving at the station. The reboost increased the orbiting laboratory’s altitude by 9/10 of a mile at apogee and 1.3 miles at perigee and left the station in an orbit of 264.7 x 254.2 statute miles.


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Station Crew Busy with Research as Managers Work Ax-1, Crew-4 Missions

The SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship is pictured from a window aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour crew ship.
The SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship is pictured from a window aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour crew ship.

The four private astronauts from Axiom Space are now due to depart the International Space Station on Saturday night and return to Earth the next day. Four commercial crew astronauts are also looking ahead to their mission aboard the orbiting lab set to begin after the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew departs.

NASA, SpaceX and Axiom Space are planning for the Ax-1 crew to undock from the station inside the Dragon Endeavour crew ship on Saturday at 6:35 p.m. EDT. Ax-1 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria will lead Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe back to Earth inside Endeavour for a splash down at 1:46 p.m. on Sunday off the coast of Florida.

The SpaceX Crew-4 mission awaits its launch date as mission managers monitor weather conditions at the Ax-1 splashdown site and review mission data after Endeavour’s return. The Falcon 9 rocket that will the launch the Crew-4 astronauts to space inside the Dragon Freedom crew ship successfully fired its nine Merlin engines on Wednesday during its static fire test. In the meantime, Crew-4 Commander Kjell Lindgren with Pilot Robert Hines and Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti, continue training for their mission while in quarantine at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Operations on the station continue normally, as the four Expedition 67 astronauts worked on an array of space research on Thursday. Commander Tom Marshburn of NASA joined ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer for muscle measurements and ultrasound scans. The duo contributed to the Myotones human research experiment to understand how weightlessness affects the biochemical properties of muscles. NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Raja Chari collected blood and urine samples and stowed them in science freezer for future analysis for more insights into spaceflight’s impact on the human body. The quartet also checked out their Dragon spacesuits as they look ahead to their departure inside the Dragon Endurance soon after the Crew-4 astronauts begin their station mission.

The three cosmonauts living and working on the orbital lab focused on their suite of science and upkeep tasks. Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev studied piloting techniques that may be used on future planetary or robotic missions. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Denis Matveev attached a heart monitor to himself then photographed the condition of Russian module windows. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov pursued cardiac research during the morning before working on Russian life support and photography gear.

Station Crew Awaits Ax-1 Departure and Crew-4 Launch

International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragons Endurance and Endeavour; the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter; and Russia's Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and the Progress 79 and 80 resupply ships.
International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragons Endurance and Endeavour; the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and the Progress 79 and 80 resupply ships.

The integrated NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams have agreed on a plan for the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew to undock from the International Space Station at 8:35 p.m. EDT Saturday, April 23, for a splashdown off the coast of Florida about 1:46 p.m. Sunday, April 24. The decision was made based on the best weather for splashdown of the first private astronaut mission to visit the International Space Station and the return trajectory required to bring the crew and the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft back to Earth safely.

NASA will provide live coverage of departure activities beginning at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, April 23, with hatch closure targeted for 6:30 p.m. Coverage will resume at 8:15 p.m. for the undocking. Teams will continue to monitor weather at the splashdown sites prior to undocking to ensure conditions are acceptable for a safe recovery of the Ax-1 astronauts and Dragon spacecraft.

NASA and Axiom mission planning prepared for the possibility of additional time on station for the private astronauts, and there are sufficient provisions for all 11 crew members aboard the space station. The Ax-1 crew continues to work through previously planned mission activities. The Ax-1 crew and Dragon spacecraft remain healthy.

The departure of Dragon Endeavour from the space station will clear the docking port for the arrival of Dragon Freedom and NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts. The earliest potential launch opportunity for the Crew-4 mission is 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 26, with additional opportunities Wednesday, April 27, and Thursday, April 28. These launch opportunities are undergoing a more detailed program review to ensure they align with integrated operational timelines. The teams want to provide a two-day gap after Ax-1 return for data reviews from splashdown and to prepare for the Crew-4 launch, including the staging of recovery assets.

The Crew-4 astronauts spent last night at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida rehearsing the countdown to their launch inside the SpaceX Dragon Freedom, the company’s newest crew ship. Overnight, Crew-4 Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Robert Hines with Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti, put on their pressure suits and entered their vehicle conducting a successful dry dress rehearsal. The Falcon 9 rocket, with the Freedom perched atop, stands at Launch Complex 39A.

Expedition 67 crewmates Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, who are also the SpaceX Crew-3 commander and pilot respectively, spent a little time on Wednesday with their upcoming departure activities. The pair, along with Kayla Barron of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA, will wait for the arrival of their Crew-4 replacements before returning to Earth a few days later inside the Dragon Endurance vehicle. The four astronauts had a light-duty day on Wednesday scheduling in some housecleaning tasks.

Over in the Russian segment of the station, cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev wrapped up their post-spacewalk activities today stowing their tools and discussing the excursion with specialists on the ground. The duo kicked off a series of spacewalks on April 18 to configure the European robotic arm for operations on the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov started his day with electronics and communications maintenance before studying future spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques in the afternoon.