NASA to provide live coverage of European commercial mission’s return to ISS


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NASA is set to provide live coverage of the first completely European commercial mission to the International Space Station (ISS) as it prepares to depart back to Earth. The Axiom 3 mission, consisting of four astronauts, is expected to undock from the ISS and begin its journey home on a Spacex Dragon ship. The live coverage will include joint operations at the orbital outpost and hatch closing preparations.

The crew of the Axiom 3 mission, commanded by Spanish-American Michael López-Alegría, has spent two weeks on the ISS conducting over thirty scientific experiments in microgravity. This is the first time that the crew is completely European, with members from Italy, Turkey, and Sweden. The SpaceX Dragon will return to Earth with over 550 pounds of cargo, including NASA hardware and data from the experiments conducted during the mission.

The splashdown of the Dragon spacecraft is expected to take place around 7:00 p.m. local time. NASA’s live coverage will end about 30 minutes after undocking, with Axiom Space capturing the splashdown and broadcasting it through their website. The mission of Axiom 3 is part of NASA’s efforts to open access to low Earth orbit for private industry, allowing the agency to become one of many customers in a thriving commercial economy in space.

Axiom Space, created in 2016, aims to exploit the emerging market of commercial activities in low Earth orbit, from tourism to manufacturing. The private commercial company plans to operate its own space station, with the goal of launching its first module in 2026. This mission marks a significant milestone in the development of commercial space travel and the future of space exploration.

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