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Crew-4 mission delayed; NASA to bring home Axiom 1 private astronauts first

Bad weather has kept the private astronaut crew at the International Space Station a bit longer than expected.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Crew-4 will have to wait a little bit longer before leaving Earth for the International Space Station after the return of the Axiom Mission 1 private crew was delayed due to weather.

According to a press release, NASA, Axiom Space and SpaceX teams have agreed to bring the first private astronaut crew to visit the ISS home for a 1:46 p.m. splashdown off Florida's coast on Sunday. 

"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 wrote.

The private crew's return is needed ahead of Crew-4's launch since the departure of the Dragon Endeavour spacecraft will clear the docking portal set to be used for the arrival of the Dragon Freedom spacecraft.

That means the earliest launch opportunity for the next set of astronauts under NASA's Commerical Crew program to head into space is now set for 3:52 a.m. on April 27.

"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," NASA wrote.

In the meantime, NASA says Crew-4 astronauts have been spending time rehearsing the countdown to launch at the Kennedy Space Center. Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Robert Hines, Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Mission Specialists Samanta Cristoforetti also completed a successful dry dress rehearsal.

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