SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying Ax-3 astronauts safely splashes down

The SpaceX Dragon crew capsule carrying the Axiom-3, or Ax-3, mission astronauts safely splashed down off the Florida coast this morning, returning the four men home.

It was a successful conclusion to the longest private spaceflight for Axiom space thus far.

After several weeks in space, where they conducted experiments on the International Space Station, Commander Michael López-Alegría, mission specialist Alper Gezeravcı, mission specialist Marcus Wandt, and pilot Walter Villadei, all returned home safely today after undocking on Wednesday.

After originally planning to undock from the ISS on Tuesday, unfavorable weather conditions in the oceanic splashdown location delayed the start of the trip home to Wednesday. The four astronauts left around 9:20 a.m. EST that morning.

The deorbit burn began around 7:40 a.m. this morning, and the four main parachutes on the Dragon capsule deployed just before 8:30 a.m.

Splashdown occurred just shortly after, as a video of the successful return to Earth was shared by SpaceX this morning:

The splashdown occurred just off the coastline of Daytona Beach, Florida, which lies on the Atlantic side of the state. The four astronauts were scooped up by recovery boat Shannon just after 9 a.m.

The mission was important due to the high volume of experiments the astronauts were tasked with completing during their time on the ISS. More than 56 experiments were performed during the 18-day excursion on the ISS, including some in space medicine, according to Space.com.

“Data collected on ground before and after the mission as well as in flight will impact understanding of human physiology on Earth and on orbit, as well as advance scientific understanding, harness opportunities for industrial advancements, and develop technologies for humanity’s progress,” a mission description from Axiom Space said.

As the capsule neared splashdown, SpaceX Mission Control said to the Ax-3 team, “Thank you for flying SpaceX.”

“Flying SpaceX was our pleasure,” Lopez-Alegria said.

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